572 results 1-20

L.E.L: The Rise and Fall of Letitia Landon

Lucasta Miller (Author)

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.

Brothers York

Thomas Penn (Author)

The new book by the author of the bestselling Winter King

How Was It For You?

Virginia Nicholson (Author)

"A feeling that we could do whatever we liked swept through us in the 60s..."

The sexual revolution liberated a generation. But men most of all.

We tend to think of the 60s as a decade sprinkled with stardust: a time of space travel and utopian dreams, but above all of sexual abandonment. When the pill was introduced on the NHS in 1961 it seemed, for the first time, that women - like men - could try without buying.

"It was paradise for men... all these willing girls..."

But this book describes a turbulent power struggle.

Here are the voices from the battleground. Meet dollybird Mavis, debutante Kristina, Beryl who sang with the Beatles, bunny girl Patsy, Christian student Anthea, industrial campaigner Mary and countercultural Caroline. From Carnaby Street to Merseyside, from mods to rockers, from white gloves to Black is Beautiful, their stories throw an unsparing spotlight on morals, four-letter words, faith, drugs, race, bomb culture and sex.

This is a moving, shocking book about tearing up the world and starting again. It's about peace, love, psychedelia and strange pleasures, but it is also about misogyny, violation and discrimination - half a century before feminism rebranded. For out of the swamp of gropers and groupies, a movement was emerging, and discovering a new cause: equality.

The 1960s: this was where it all began. Women would never be the same again.

"A ground-breaking book, richly nuanced with titbits of information, insight and understanding" Daily Mail on Singled Out

"A tremendous achievement... a triumph of research and organisation - but also of sympathy" Observer on Millions Like Us

"An important and humane book of female social history" The Times on Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes

Beowulf

Janina Ramirez (Author)

Part of the new Ladybird Expert series, Beowulf is an accessible, authoritative, and entertaining introduction to the Anglo-Saxon epic.

Written by the leading lights and most outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.

For an adult readership, the Ladybird Expert series is produced in the same iconic small hardback format pioneered by the original Ladybirds. Each beautifully illustrated book features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years.

A Short History of Europe

Simon Jenkins (Author)

The first short, single-volume history of the continent, from the author of the bestselling A Short History of England

Europe is an astonishingly successful place. In this dazzling new history, bestselling author Simon Jenkins grippingly tells the story of its evolution from warring peoples to peace, wealth and freedom - a story that twists and turns from Greece and Rome, through the Dark Ages, the Reformation and the French Revolution, to the Second World War and up to the present day.

Jenkins takes in leaders from Julius Caesar and Joan of Arc, to Wellington and Angela Merkel, as well as cultural figures from Aristotle to Shakespeare and Picasso. He brings together the transformative forces and dominant eras into one chronological tale - all with his usual insight, colour and authority.

Despite the importance of Europe's politics, economy and culture, there has not been - until now - a concise book to tell this story. Covering the key events, themes and individuals, Jenkins' portrait of the continent could not be more timely - or masterful.

'Full of stand-out facts ... absolutely fascinating' - Richard Bacon, BBC Radio 2, on 'A Short History of England'

'Masterly, perhaps a masterpiece' - Independent, Books of the Year on England's Thousand Best Churches

'Jenkins is, like all good guides, more than simply informative: he can be courteous and rude, nostalgic and funny, elegant, convincing and relaxed' - Adam Nicolson on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Evening Standard

'Full of the good judgements one might hope for from such a sensible and readable commentator, and they alone are worth perusing for pleasure and food for thought' - Michael Wood on 'A Short History of England', New Statesman

'Any passably cultured inhabitant of the British Isles should ask for, say, three or four copies of this book' - Max Hastings on 'England's Thousand Best Houses', Sunday Telegraph

Devices and Desires

Kate Hubbard (Author)

The remarkable story of Bess of Hardwick, her ascent through Elizabethan society and the houses she built that shaped British architectural history.

Born in 1521, Bess of Hardwick, businesswoman, money-lender and property tycoon, lived an astonishing eighty-seven years. Through canny choices, four husbands and a will of steel she rose from country squire’s daughter to Dowager Countess, establishing herself as one of the richest and most powerful women in England, second only to Queen Elizabeth.

Bess forged her way not merely by judicious marriage, but by shrewd exploitation of whatever assets each marriage brought. At a time when women were legally and financially subordinate to their husbands, Bess succeeded in manipulating hers to her own and her children’s advantage, accumulating great riches and estates in the process. Wealth took concrete form in her passion for building and she oversaw every stage of the construction of her four country houses: Chatsworth, Hardwick Old Hall, Hardwick New Hall and Owlcotes. Hardwick New Hall, her sole surviving building, is stamped all over with Bess’s identity and her initials: it stands as a celebration of one woman’s triumphant progress through Elizabethan England.

In Devices and Desires, Kate Hubbard examines Bess’s life as a builder within the context of the male-dominated Elizabethan architectural world. This new biography traces the creation of Hardwick and Bess’s lost houses, as well as estates such as Longleat, Holdenby and Theobalds, all known to and coveted by Bess. Throughout, it seeks to locate Bess within Hardwick, her greatest achievement and her lasting monument.

Aethelred the Unready (Penguin Monarchs)

Richard Abels (Author)

A major new title in the Penguin Monarchs series

In his fascinating new book in the Penguin Monarchs series, Richard Abels examines the long and troubled reign of Aethelred II the 'Unraed', the 'Ill-Advised'. It is characteristic of Aethelred's reign that its greatest surviving work of literature, the poem The Battle of Maldon, should be a record of heroic defeat. Perhaps no ruler could have stemmed the encroachment of wave upon wave of Viking raiders, but Aethelred will always be associated with that failure.

Richard Abels is Professor Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy. He is the author of Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England and Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Churchill

Andrew Roberts (Author)

Winston Churchill dominates our view of the history of Britain in the twentieth century - the brash, brave and ambitious young aristocrat who sought out danger in late Victorian wars, the mercurial First Lord of the Admiralty who was responsible for the Dardanelles disaster in 1915, the Home Secretary who crushed the General Strike in 1926, the Colonial Secretary who rode with T. E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell at the Pyramids, the Chancellor who took the country back to the Gold Standard and then spent more than ten years in the political wilderness - and who, finally, was summoned to save his country in 1940. 'I felt that I was walking with destiny, and all my life had been but preparation for that hour.' Andrew Robert's titanic new biography interprets all these events, especially Churchill's leadership during the Second World War, which he sees through the prism of all Churchill's earlier life. He gives full visibility to Churchill's flaws, and brilliantly explains his genius.

Roberts has used over forty collections of papers not available to Churchill's previous biographer Roy Jenkins (2001) and he is the first Churchill biographer to be granted access by the Queen to the private diaries of King George VI. This is the Churchill biography for our times and the next generation.

The Scottish Clearances

T. M. Devine (Author)

Eighteenth-century Scotland is famed for generating many of the enlightened ideas which helped to shape the modern world. But there was in the same period another side to the history of the nation. Many of Scotland's people were subjected to coercive and sometimes violent change: traditional and customary relationships were overturned and replaced by the 'rational' exploitation of land use. The Scottish Clearances is a superb and highly original account of this sometimes terrible process, which changed the Lowland countryside forever, as it also did, more infamously, the old society of the Highlands.

Based on an extensive use of original sources, this pioneering book is the first to chart this tumultuous saga in one volume, with due attention to evictions and loss of land in both north and south of the Highland line. In the process, old myths are exploded and familiar assumptions undermined. With many fascinating details and the sense of an epic human story, The Scottish Clearances is an evocative memorial to all whose lives were irreparably changed in the interests of economic efficiency.

The result created the landscape of Scotland as we know it today, but that came at a price. This is a story of forced clearance, of the destruction of entire communities and of large-scale emigration. Some winners were able to adapt and exploit the new opportunities, but there were also others who lost everything.

Samuel Pepys: The Diaries

Samuel Pepys (Author) , Kate Loveman (Edited by), Kate Loveman (Introducer)

When Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) began writing in 1660 he was a young clerk living in London, struggling to pay his rent. Over the next nine years as he kept his journal, he rose to be a powerful naval administrator. He became eyewitness to some of the most significant events in seventeenth-century English history, among them, the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 (he was in the ship that brought back Charles II from exile), the plague that ravaged the capital in 1665, and the Great Fire of 1666, described with poetry and horror.
Pepys's diary gives vivid descriptions of spectacular events, but much of the richness of the diary lies in the details it provides about the minor dramas of daily life. While Pepys was keen to hear the King's views, he was also ready to talk with a soldier, a housekeeper, or a child rag-picker. He records with searing frankness his tumultuous personal and professional life: the pleasures and frustrations of his marriage, together with his infidelities, his ambitions, and his power schemes. All of this was set down in shorthand, to protect it from prying eyes. The result is a lively, often astonishing, diary and an unrivalled account of life in seventeenth-century London.

A Tudor Christmas

Alison Weir (Author) , Siobhan Clarke (Author)

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.

Thomas Cromwell

Diarmaid MacCulloch (Author)

'This is the biography we have been awaiting for 400 years' Hilary Mantel

Thomas Cromwell is one of the most famous - or notorious - figures in English history. Born in obscurity in Putney, he became a fixer for Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s. After Wolsey's fall, Henry VIII promoted him to a series of ever greater offices, and by the end of the 1530s he was effectively running the country for the King. That decade was one of the most momentous in English history: it saw a religious break with the Pope, unprecedented use of parliament, the dissolution of all monasteries. Cromwell was central to all this, but establishing his role with precision, at a distance of nearly five centuries and after the destruction of many of his papers at his own fall, has been notoriously difficult.

Diarmaid MacCulloch's biography is much the most complete and persuasive life ever written of this elusive figure, a masterclass in historical detective work, making connections not previously seen. It overturns many received interpretations, for example that Cromwell was a cynical, 'secular' politician without deep-felt religious commitment, or that he and Anne Boleyn were allies because of their common religious sympathies - in fact he destroyed her. It introduces the many different personalities of these foundational years, all conscious of the 'terrifyingly unpredictable' Henry VIII. MacCulloch allows readers to feel that they are immersed in all this, that it is going on around them.

For a time, the self-made 'ruffian' (as he described himself) - ruthless, adept in the exercise of power, quietly determined in religious revolution - was master of events. MacCulloch's biography for the first time reveals his true place in the making of modern England and Ireland, for good and ill.

Behind the Throne

Adrian Tinniswood (Author)

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.

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places

Neil Oliver (Author)

The British Isles, this archipelago of islands, is to Neil Oliver the best place in the world. From north to south, east to west it cradles astonishing beauty. The human story here is a million years old, and counting. But the tolerant, easygoing peace we enjoy has been hard won. We have made and known the best and worst of times. We have been hero and villain and all else in between, and we have learned some lessons.

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places is Neil’s very personal account of what makes these islands so special, told through the places that have witnessed the unfolding of our history. Beginning with footprints made in the sand by humankind’s earliest ancestors, he takes us via Romans and Vikings, the flowering of religion, through civil war, industrial revolution and two world wars. From windswept headlands to battlefields, ancient trees to magnificent cathedrals, each of his destinations is a place where, somehow, the spirit of the past seems to linger. Beautifully written, his book is majestic, awe-inspiring, a kaleidoscopic history of a place with a story like no other.

Our Boys

Helen Parr (Author)

'This is an extraordinary book. It is partly about the Falklands War itself and the terrible things that the Paras endured, and the terrible things that some of them did, but it is also about the white working class of the 1970s and why some men born into this class ended up marching across an island that most of them had never heard of. Thoughtful and sometimes heart-breaking' Richard Vinen, author of National Service

Our Boys brings to life the human experiences of the paratroopers who fought in the Falklands War, and examines the long aftermath of that conflict. It is a first in many ways - a history of the Parachute Regiment, a group with an elite and aggressive reputation; a study of close-quarters combat on the Falkland Islands; and an exploration of the many legacies of this short and symbolic war.

Told unflinchingly through the experiences of people who lived through it, Our Boys shows how the Falklands conflict began to change Britain's relationship with its soldiers, and our attitudes to trauma and war itself. It is also the story of one particular soldier: the author's uncle, who was killed during the conflict, and whose fate has haunted both the author and his fellow paratroopers ever since.

The British in India

David Gilmour (Author)

The British in this book lived in India from shortly after the reign of Elizabeth I until well into the reign of Elizabeth II. They were soldiers, officials, businessmen, doctors and missionaries of both sexes, planters, engineers and many others, together with children, wives and sisters. This book describes their lives, their work and their extraordinarily varied interactions with the native populations; it also records the very diverse roles they played in the three centuries of British-Indian history. Gilmour writes of people who have never been written about before, men and women who are presented here with humanity and often with humour. The result is a magnificent tapestry of life, an exceptional work of scholarly recovery which reads like a great nineteenth-century novel. It makes a highly original and engaging contribution to a long an important period of British and Indian history.

The Hurlers

Paul Rouse (Author)

In 1882, a letter was published in the Irish Times, lamenting the decline of hurling. The game was now played only in a few isolated rural pockets, and according to no fixed set of rules. It would have been absurd to imagine that, within five years, an all-Ireland hurling championship would be underway, under the auspices of a powerful national organization.

The Hurlers is a superbly readable account of that dramatic turn of events, of the colourful men who made it happen, and of the political intrigues and violent rows that marked the early years of the GAA. From the very start, republican and ecclesiastical interests jockeyed for control, along with a small core of enthusiasts who were just in it for the sport. In this authoritative and seriously entertaning book, Paul Rouse shows how sport, culture and politics swirled together in a heady, often chaotic mix.

The Stepney Doorstep Society

Kate Thompson (Author)

The unsung and remarkable stories of the women who held London's East End together during not one, but two world wars.

While the men were away at war it was strong women like Joan, Marie, Babs, Beattie and Minksy who ruled the streets of the East End. Kate Thompson tells the real stories of the war experienced by these matriarchs, a tribe of working-class women in the stinking streets, teeming tenements and sweatshops of East London.

Forget church halls and jam making, these powerfully authentic stories will have you questioning what you thought you knew about wartime women. From standing up to the Kray twins, taking over the London Underground, and crawling out of bombsites, these women fought to survive and protect their community in some of our country's darkest hours.

Henry I (Penguin Monarchs)

Edmund King (Author)

The youngest of William the Conqueror's sons, Henry I (1100-35) was never meant to be king, but he was destined to become one of the greatest of all medieval monarchs, both through his own ruthlessness and intelligence and through the dynastic legacy of his daughter Matilda, who began the Plantagenet line that would rule England until 1485. A self-consciously diligent and thoughtful king, his rule was looked back on as the real post-invasion re-founding of England as a new realm, integrated into the continent, wealthy and stable.

Edmund King's wonderful portrait of Henry shows him as a strikingly charismatic and thoughtful man. His life was dogged by a single great disaster, the death of his teenage heir William in the White Ship disaster. Despite astonishing numbers of illegitimate sons, Henry was now left with only a daughter. This fact would shape the rest of the 12th century and beyond.

Curiocity

Henry Eliot (Author) , Matt Lloyd-Rose (Author)

'The most ingenious, informative, inimitable, individual, innovative, insightful, inspiring, instructive, intelligible, intoxicating, intricate guide to the great city that I have ever seen. Bravo!' Philip Pullman

Curiocity is a London book unlike any other. Its 26 chapters weave together facts, myths, stories, riddles, essays, diagrams, illustrations and itineraries to explore every aspect of life in the capital. At the heart of each chapter is a hand-drawn map, charting everything from thecity's islands and underground spaces, to its erogenous zones and dystopian futures. Taking you from Atlas to Zones, via Congestion, Folkmoot, Pearls and Xenophilia, Curiocity will transform the way you see London.

'The greatest book about London published in modern times ... an illuminated manuscript for the 21st century city' Londonist

'Here is something different ... the literary equivalent of Sir John Soane's Museum ... quite breathtaking' The Times Literary Supplement

'Remarkable ... a nerdy Londoner's paradise ... an exquisite 450-page cross between an encyclopaedia and an artwork' Evening Standard

'Utterly extraordinary' Tom Holland

'However well you think you know London, you will discover something newon virtually every page, and the things you know well will be seen completely differently' The London Society

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