Reviews

  • "It's high time for a new biography of this extraordinary woman, who was a cross between Chaucer's Wife of Bath and Thackeray's Becky Sharp... Devices and Desires is fluently written and full of vivid colour and detail... This book will take its place rightly as the definitive biography of Bess of Hardwick"

    Roy Strong, Country Life
  • "Part biography and part building history, considering along the way the erection of Elizabethan prodigy houses, such as Longleat, Theobalds, Wollaton, and, above all, Bess's Hardwick New Hall. It is in here that we can still see Bess's wit, ambition, creativity and vast wealth... Meticulous... A work of considerable scholarship"

    Suzannah Lipscomb, The Spectator
  • "Carefully researched and smartly written... The story of building in the 16th century is an elegant way into the ambitions and preoccupations of Bess's world.... The book's true stars are the buildings and one is grateful to its author for reminding us how wonderful they were"

    Nicola Shulman, The Oldie
  • "A dynamic portrait of Bess's life... Hubbard makes creative use of often-overlooked sources, such as lists of purchases, to flesh out Bess's daily life and surroundings, and how she sought to shape both. The fascinating relationship between Bess's biography and her building projects is also brought to the fore. Bess of Hardwick emerges from Devices and Desires as a fascinating and influential woman"

    Joanne Paul, BBC History Magazine
  • "An enjoyable retelling of Bess’s long and remarkable life…and her astonishing impulse to build"

    Richard Hopton, Country & Town House
  • "A fascinating portrait of the second most powerful female character in Elizabethan England, and a wonderfully detailed account of the making of its historic houses"

    Rebecca Fraser, author of The Mayflower Generation
  • "Excellent. The approach taken is innovative, taking the reader back into the world of Bess of Hardwick, who was arguably the Elizabethan period's greatest builder. Kate Hubbard clearly sets Bess and her building works in the context of the period and her peers, providing the most nuanced account of her life to date"

    Elizabeth Norton, author of The Lives of Tudor Women
  • "A compelling study… Hubbard illuminates the creative process behind the construction of [Bess’s] architectural masterpieces"

    Anne Somerset, Literary Review

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