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On 15 October 1838, the body of a thirty-six-year-old woman was found in Cape Coast Castle, West Africa, a bottle of Prussic acid in her hand. She was one of the most famous English poets of her day: Letitia Elizabeth Landon, known by her initials ‘L.E.L.’
What was she doing in Africa? Was her death an accident, as the inquest claimed? Or had she committed suicide, or even been murdered?
To her contemporaries, she was an icon, hailed as the ‘female Byron’, admired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Heinrich Heine, the young Brontë sisters and Edgar Allan Poe. However, she was also a woman with secrets, the mother of three illegitimate children whose existence was subsequently wiped from the record. After her death, she became the subject of a cover-up which is only now unravelling.
Too scandalous for her reputation to survive, Letitia Landon was a brilliant woman who made a Faustian pact in a ruthless world. She embodied the post-Byronic era, the ‘strange pause’ between the Romantics and the Victorians. This new investigation into the mystery of her life, work and death excavates a whole lost literary culture, in which the legacy of Keats and Shelley turned toxic.
Published: 1 Jan 2098
Christmas in Tudor times was a period of feasting, revelry and merrymaking ‘to drive the cold winter away’. A carnival atmosphere presided at court, with a twelve-day-long festival of entertainments, pageants, theatre productions and ‘disguisings’, when even the king and queen dressed up in costume to fool their courtiers. Throughout the festive season, all ranks of subjects were freed for a short time from everyday cares to indulge in eating, drinking, dancing and game-playing.
We might assume that our modern Christmas owes much to the Victorians. In fact, as Alison Weir and Siobhan Clarke reveal in this fascinating book, many of our favourite Christmas traditions date back much further. Carol-singing, present-giving, mulled wine and mince pies were all just as popular in Tudor times, and even Father Christmas and roast turkey dinners have their origins in this period. The festival was so beloved by English people that Christmas traditions survived remarkably unchanged in this age of tumultuous religious upheaval.
Beautifully illustrated with original line drawings throughout, this enchanting compendium will fascinate anyone with an interest in Tudor life – and anyone who loves Christmas.
Behind the Throne is a history of family life.
The families concerned were royal families. But they still had to get up in the morning. They ate and entertained their friends and worried about money. Henry VIII kept tripping over his dogs. George II threw his son out of the house. James I had to cut back on the drink bills.
The great difference is that royal families had more help with their lives than most. Charles I maintained a household of 2,000 people. Victoria’s medical establishment alone consisted of thirty doctors, three dentists and a chiropodist. Even in today’s more democratic climate, Elizabeth II keeps a full-time staff of 1,200. A royal household was a community, a vast machine. Everyone, from James I’s Master of the Horse down to William IV’s Assistant Table Decker, was there to smooth the sovereign’s path through life while simultaneously confirming his or her status.
Behind the Throne uncovers the reality of five centuries of life at the English court, taking the reader on a remarkable journey from one Queen Elizabeth to another and exploring life as it was lived by clerks and courtiers and clowns and crowned heads: the power struggles and petty rivalries, the tension between duty and desire; the practicalities of cooking dinner for thousands, or ensuring the king always won when he played a game of tennis.
Behind the Throne is nothing less than a domestic history of the royal household, a reconstruction of life behind the throne. Readers go on progress with Elizabeth I as she takes her court and her majesty to her subjects. They dance the conga round the state rooms of Buckingham Palace with George VI.
They find out what it was like to dine with queens, and walk with kings.
Deep in a wood in the Marches of Wales, in an ancient school bus there lives an old man called Bob Rowberry.
A Hero for High Times is the story of how he ended up in this broken-down bus. It's also the story of his times, and the ideas that shaped him. It's a story of why you know your birth sign, why you have friends called Willow, why sex and drugs and rock’n’roll once mattered more than money, why dance music stopped the New-Age Travellers from travelling, and why you need to think twice before taking the brown acid.
It's the story of the hippies for those who weren't there – for Younger Readers who've never heard of the Aldermaston marches, Oz, the Angry Brigade, the Divine Light Mission, Sniffin' Glue, Operation Julie, John Seymour, John Michell, Greenham Common, the Battle of the Beanfield, but who want to understand their grandparents’ stories of turning on, tuning in and not quite dropping out before they are gone for ever. It's for Younger Readers who want to know how to build a bender, make poppy tea, and throw the I-Ching.
And it's a story of friendship between two men, one who did things, and one who thought about things, between theory and practice, between a hippie and a punk, between two gentlemen, no longer in the first flush of youth, who still believe in love.
Published: 15 Feb 2018
**THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER**
Where are you really from?
You’re British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British.
So why do people keep asking you where you are from?
Brit(ish) is about a search for identity. It is about the everyday racism that plagues British society. It is about our awkward, troubled relationship with our history. It is about why liberal attempts to be ‘colour-blind’ have caused more problems than they have solved. It is about why we continue to avoid talking about race.
In this personal and provocative investigation, Afua Hirsch explores a very British crisis of identity. We are a nation in denial about our past and our present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change.
Simon Wiesenthal was the legendary 'Nazi hunter', a Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to the punishment of Nazi criminals. A hero in the eyes of many, he was also attacked for his unrelenting pursuit of the past, when others preferred to forget.
For this definitive biography, Tom Segev has obtained access to Wiesenthal's hundreds of thousands of private papers and to sixteen archives, including records of the U.S., Israeli, Polish and East German secret services. Segev is able to reveal the intriguing secrets of Wiesenthal's life, including his stunning role in the capture of Adolf Eichmann, his controversial investigative techniques, his unlikely friendships with Kurt Waldheim and Albert Speer, and the nature of his rivalry with Elie Wiesel.
Tom Segev has written a brilliant character study of a 'hunter' who was driven by his own memories to ensure that the destruction of European Jewry never be forgotten.
Published: 30 Nov 2017
‘[A] fantastically readable and endlessly fascinating book… Delicious, occasionally fantastical, revealing in ways that Downtown Abbey never was.’ Rachel Cooke, Observer
A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year
There is nothing quite as beautiful as an English country house in summer. And there has never been a summer quite like that Indian summer between the two world wars, a period of gentle decline in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a thousand stately homes.
Real life in the country house during the 1920s and 1930s was not always so sunny. By turns opulent and ordinary, noble and vicious, its shadows were darker. In The Long Weekend, Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the truth about a world half-forgotten, draped in myth and hidden behind stiff upper lips and film-star smiles. Drawing on hundreds of memoirs, on unpublished letters and diaries, on the eye-witness testimonies of belted earls and unhappy heiresses and bullying butlers, The Long Weekend gives a voice to the people who inhabited this world. In a definitive social history which combines anecdote and narrative with scholarship, it brings the stately homes of England to life, giving readers an insight into the guilt and the gingerbread, and showing how the image of the country house was carefully protected by its occupants above and below stairs, and how the reality was so much more interesting than the dream.
In late 1995 and early 1996, cartoonist/reporter Joe Sacco travelled four times to Gorazde, a UN-designated safe area during the Bosnian War, which had teetered on the brink of obliteration for three and a half years.
Still surrounded by Bosnian Serb forces, the mainly Muslim people of Gorazde had endured heavy attacks and severe privation to hang on to their town while the rest of Eastern Bosnia was brutally 'cleansed' of its non-Serb population. But as much as Safe Area Gorazde is an account of a terrible siege, it presents a snapshot of people who were slowly letting themselves believe that a war was ending and that they had survived.
Since it was first published in 2000, Safe Area Gorazde has been recognized as one of the absolute classics of graphic non-fiction. We are delighted to publish it in the UK for the first time, to stand beside Joe Sacco's other books on the Cape list - Palestine, The Fixer and Notes from a Defeatist.
Published: 12 Apr 2007
In 1875, a few years after Italian unification, General Garibaldi, the
legendary military hero of the Risorgimento, left his island retreat in the
Mediterranean for Rome. His battle cry no longer required, he was pursuing a mission that would become an obsession in his old age: to divert the River Tiber from Rome.
Through this forgotten episode, Daniel Pick observes Garibaldi's passionate attachment to Rome and Italy.In the bitter debate that ensued many myths were laid bare, and prevailing medical, social and political anxieties about the future of the state were exposed.In the ebb and flow of this epic project, strong currents of emotion swirled around this larger-than-life Victorian hero and the city with which he and his contemporaries were obsessed. Garibaldi's campaign also focused on the urgent questions of flood, fever and the fate of the peasantry in the dangerous landscape of the Roman 'Campagna'.
The flood-prone Tiber had caused havoc, disease and death throughouthistory. But beyond the public rationales for the scheme, Rome or Death suggests more personal motives were at stake. Garibaldi had his own reasons to fight the scourge of malaria and reclaim the health of central Italy. His desperate endeavour reflected his wish to repair the past. Behind his florid promise to revitalise 'Italy' and convert the Tiber's course into a Parisian-style boulevard lay a traumatic event felt by Garibaldi as the defining tragedy of his life: the loss of his wife. Despite himself, he became embroiled in the political labyrinth of Rome - in trials and tribulations worthy of Kafka. This story of thwarted ambition, grand illusion and delusion, was not lost on Garibaldi's later admirer, Benito Mussolini, another self-styled redeemer of Rome and the fever-ridden marshes of Italy.