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By Clarissa Eden. 2007
A Memoir by Clarissa Eden, born a Churchill and a Prime Minister's wife at the age of 34.In 1955, at…the astonishingly young age of 34, Clarissa Eden entered No. 10 Downing Street as the wife of the new Prime Minister, Anthony Eden. Born Clarissa Churchill in 1920, her uncle was the great Winston, and when she married the 55-year-old Eden, then Foreign Secretary, at Caxton Hall register office in 1952, there were crowds as big as the gathering that had cheered Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Wilding's wedding there six months earlier.A renowned beauty, she was at home with her mother's Liberal intellectual circle, and mixed in her youth with the pillars of Oxford's academic community - Isaiah Berlin, Maurice Bowra and David Cecil among them: according to Antonia Fraser, she was 'the don's delight because she was beautiful and extremely intellectual'. Her close circle of friends included some of the leading cultural figures of the twentieth century: Cecil Beaton, Evelyn Waugh, Orson Welles among them. Her observations and insights into these men and their world provide a unique window into the mid 20th century. As the spouse of the most important man in Britain, the hostess at No. 10 and Chequers, Clarissa Eden was inevitably privy to a multitude of top-level secrets. The Suez crisis and Eden's ill health meant that she shared just four years of Anthony's political life and eighteen months as Prime Minister's wife. This individual, discriminating and honest memoir is her first account of extraordinary times, intuitively edited by Cate Haste, co-author of The Goldfish Bowl.
By Adrian Greaves. 2007
A new biography of Lawrence of ArabiaT.E. Lawrence is one of the most enigmatic characters in British history. At the…outbreak of the First World War he was working as an archaeologist in the Middle East. He had no military training at all, and a strong distrust of politicians and senior officers alike. And yet he succeeded in a task where all these people had failed: not only did he unite the Arab nation - a nation at perpetual war with itself - but he also led them to victory against the Ottoman Empire.How he managed to achieve these incredible feats has fascinated and confounded historians ever since. The myths that have grown up around this remarkable man have been enhanced by the untruths Lawrence himself propagated. He was never captured and tortured by the Turks as he claimed, neither was he the first to target Ottoman troops by dynamiting their trains. And yet the truth is every bit as compelling as the fiction. He was far more ruthless than he portrayed himself, and the battles he fought were every bit as barbarous as those fought by his Ottoman enemies. He was also strangely determined not to take credit for his achievements: when offered the VC at Buckingham Palace he refused it, leaving the king holding the box.This brand new biography by the author of RORKE'S DRIFT uses primary sources to uncover the truth from all the fictions that surround this legendary man. It covers the actualities of the war Lawrence fought in greater detail than ever before, and also describes what happened to Lawrence after the war.
By Lady Antonia Fraser. 2006
Mistresses and wives, mothers and daughters - Antonia Fraser brilliantly explores the relationships which existed between The Sun King and…the women in his life. This includes not only Louis XIV's mistresses, principally Louise de La Vallière, Athénaïs de Montespan, and the puritanical Madame de Maintenon, but also the wider story of his relationships with women in general, including his mother Anne of Austria, his two sisters-in-law who were Duchesses d'Orléans in succession, Henriette-Anne and Liselotte, his wayward illegitimate daughters, and lastly Adelaide, the beloved child-wife of his grandson.
By Mary S. Lovell. 2001
'A cracking read ' Lynn Barber, ObserverThe Mitford Girls tells the true story behind the gaiety and frivolity of the…six Mitford daughters - and the facts are as sensational as any novel: Nancy, whose bright social existence masked an obsessional doomed love which soured her success; Pam, a countrywoman married to one of the best brains in Europe; Diana, an iconic beauty, who was already married when at 22 she fell in love with Oswald Moseley, the leader of the British fascists; Unity, who romantically in love with Hitler, became a member of his inner circle before shooting herself in the temple when WWII was declared; Jessica, the family rebel, who declared herself a communist in the schoolroom and the youngest sister, Debo, who became the Duchess of Devonshire.This is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, containing much new material, based on exclusive access to Mitford archives.
By Mary S. Lovell. 2005
From the bestselling author of The Mitford Girls: A 'wonderfully researched' (Sunday Express) biography of Bess of Hartwick, the most…powerful woman in England next to Queen Elizabeth Bringing 'the Tudor Age to exuberant life' (Hugh Massingberd, Mail on Sunday), Mary S. Lovell tells the story of Bess of Hardwick,, one of the most remarkable women of the Tudor era. Gently-born in reduced circumstances, she was married at 15 and when she was widowed at 16, she was still a virgin. At 19 she married a man more than twice her age, Sir William Cavendish, a senior auditor in King Henry VIII's Court of Augmentations. Responsible for seizing church properties for the crown during the Dissolution, Cavendish enriched himself in the process. During the reign of King Edward VI, Cavendish was the Treasurer to the boy king and sisters, and he and Bess moved in the highest levels of society. They had a London home and built Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. After Cavendish's death her third husband was poisoned by his brother. Bess' fourth marriage to the patrician George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, Earl Marshall of England, made Bess one of the most important women at court. Her shrewd business acumen was a byword, and she was said to have 'a masculine understanding', in that age when women had little education and few legal rights. The Earl's death made her arguably the wealthiest, and therefore - next to the Queen - the most powerful woman in the country. 'This wonderfully researched book is an intimate portrait of [Bess's] life and a vivid insight into life in Tudor society' Sunday Express
By Ranulph Fiennes. 2009
Ranulph Fiennes tells the story of his unconventional, exceptional family, and reveals the ingredients for the man described by the…Guinness Book of Records as 'the world's greatest living explorer'.Discover Sir Ranulph Twistelton-Wykham-Fiennes's personal expedition to trace his extraordinary family through history. From Charlemagne - himself a direct ancestor of the author - to the count who very nearly persuaded William the Conqueror to retreat at Hastings, many members of this unique clan have lived close to the nerve centre of the ruler of their day.They number in their ranks a murderer, a wife poisoner, a poacher, England's greatest female traveller of the 17th century, and an extortionist Lord High Treasurer, teen cousins who eloped, a noble lord hanged for manslaughter, another hanged for adultery with the King's wife, and many who, as admirals or major-generals, won famous battles. The Fiennes' behind Cromwell provided the castle in which the Parliamentarians made their first secret moves, the same building in which twenty-one successive generations of the family have lived for 600 unbroken years . . . And that is just a taster.A whirlwind romp through the annals of time, peopled with the good, the bad and downright mad among the Fiennes clan. - Sunday Telegraph
By Mary S. Lovell. 2009
When she disappeared in 1937 over a shark-infested sea, Amelia Earhart had lived up to her wish - internationally famous,…a daring and pioneering aviator, and ambassador extraordinary for the United States. Married to a man with a genius for publicity, her life was crowded, demanding and adventurous. Mary S. Lovell's superb biography examines a legend to reveal the pressures and influences that drove Amelia, and shows how her life, career and manner of death foreshadowed the tragedies and excesses of a media-dominated age.
By Vera Brittain. 1970
This classic memoir of the First World War is now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander and Kit Harington.…Includes an afterword by Kate Mosse OBE.In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the life of her whole generation - had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain's account of how she survived those agonising years; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time, and has lost none of its power to shock, move and enthral readers since its first publication in 1933.
By Leonie Frieda. 2004
The bestselling revisionist biography of one of the great women of the 16th centuryOrphaned in infancy, Catherine de Medici was…the sole legitimate heiress to the Medici family fortune. Married at fourteen to the future Henri II of France, she was constantly humiliated by his influential mistress Diane de Poitiers. When her husband died as a result of a duelling accident in Paris, Catherine was made queen regent during the short reign of her eldest son (married to Mary Queen of Scots and like many of her children he died young). When her second son became king she was the power behind the throne.She nursed dynastic ambitions, but was continually drawn into political and religious intrigues between Catholics and Protestants that plagued France for much of the later part of her life. It had always been said that she was implicated in the notorious Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, together with the king and her third son who succeeded to the throne in 1574, but was murdered. Her political influence waned, but she survived long enough to ensure the succession of her son-in-law who had married her daughter Margaret.
By Ranulph Fiennes. 2003
Sir Ranulph Fiennes is uniquely qualified to write a new biography of Captain Scott. This is the first biography of…Scott by someone who has experienced the deprivations, the stress and the sheer physical pain that Scott lived through; he has suffered all but the final tragedy endured by the much maligned Scott. He is determined to put the record straight. As well as being the definitive biography of Scott, written with the full and exclusive cooperation of the Scott Estate, this book traces the way that Scott's reputation has been attacked and his achievements distorted.'Sir Ranulph Fiennes has done Captain Scott's memory some service...he has certainly written a more dispassionate and balanced account than Huntford ever set out to do.' - Simon Courtauld, Spectator
By Michael Bloch. 2004
The Alexander Technique is a method of muscular re-education, which has become standard training for actors, dancers and singers, and…is practised for health reasons all over the world. Its founder, Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955), was an Australian actor who stumbled upon it in the 1890s after studying himself in mirrors to discover why he had lost his voice. He realised that most people suffered from the same postural defects he had noticed in himself, and that this explained much of what went wrong with them. F.M. (as he was known) came to London in 1904 and became enormously successful. During the First World War he practised in America with equal success, converting the American philosopher John Dewey to his cause. He wrote four books (all still in print), and his supporters included Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw and Stafford Cripps. He was, however, a difficult and argumentative man who made enemies. Towards the end of his life he embarked on a libel action against the South African government, which had accused him of charlatanism. He won, and went on practising and propagating his technique until his death aged 86.
By Alan Forrest. 2012
On a cold December day in 1840 Parisians turned out in force to watch as Napoleon's coffin was solemnly borne…down the Champs-Elysées on its final journey to the Invalides. The return of the Emperor's body from the island of St Helena, nearly twenty years after his death, was a moment they had eagerly awaited, though there were many who feared that the memories stirred would only further destabilize a country that had struggled for order and direction since 'the little corporal' was sent into exile after Waterloo.Alan Forrest tells the remarkable story of how the son of a Corsican attorney became the most powerful man in Europe, a man whose political legacy endured long after his lonely death many thousands of miles from France. Along the way, he cuts away the layers of myth and counter-myth that have grown up around Napoleon, a man who mixed history and legend promiscuously, and shows how he was as much a product of his times as he was their creator.The convulsive effect of the Revolution on French society, and the new meritocracy it ushered in, afforded men of this generation opportunities that were unimaginable under the Ancien Régime. Napoleon seized every chance that was offered him, making full use of his undoubted abilities and charismatic presence. But the Empire he created, stretching across most of the European continent, was not the work of one man. It was a collective enterprise that depended on the work and vision of thousands of administrators, army officers, jurists and educators, and The Age of Napoleon is as much their story as his.In a book that takes in everything from Napoleon's ill-fated expedition to Egypt to the festivals that punctuated the Imperial calendar, Alan Forrest draws on original research and recent scholarship to draw a fresh and compelling picture of one of the most dramatic periods in the history of Europe.
By Christopher Ward. 2011
On 14th April 1912 the Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sank. Fifteen hundred passengers and crew…lost their lives. As the order to abandon ship was given, the orchestra took their instruments on deck and continued to play. They were still playing when the ship went down. The violinist, 21 year-old Jock Hume, knew that his fiancÃ©e, Mary, was expecting their first child, the author's mother. One hundred years later, Christopher Ward reveals a dramatic story of love, loss and betrayal, and the catastrophic impact of Jock's death on two very different Scottish families. He paints a vivid portrait of an age in which class determined the way you lived - and died. An outstanding piece of historical detective work, AND THE BAND PLAYED ON is also a moving account of how the author's quest to learn more about his grandfather revealed the shocking truth about a family he thought he knew, a truth that had been hidden for nearly a hundred years.
By Matthew Dennison. 2010
Empress of Rome is the fascinating biography of one of the most perplexing and powerful figures of the ancient world:…the empress Livia. Second wife of the emperor Augustus and the mother of his successor Tiberius, Livia has been vilified by posterity (most notably by Tacitus and Robert Graves) as the quintessence of the scheming Roman matriarch, poisoning her relatives one by one to smooth her son's path to the imperial throne. In this elegant and rigorously researched biography, Matthew Dennison rescues the historical Livia from this crudely drawn caricature of the popular imagination. He depicts a complex, courageous and richly gifted woman whose true crime was not was not murder but the exercise of power, and who, in a male-dominated society, had the energy to create for herself both a prominent public profile and a significant sphere of political influence.
By Michael Bloch. 2003
Hailed in turns as 'excellent', 'intelligent', 'scrupulously fair', 'remarkable', 'impressive', and 'definitive', this superb book, by one of the pre-eminent…writers of his generation, focuses on the life of Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler's Foreign Minister from 1938 until the end of the Third Reich. At the heart of German power during the war, this strange, sinister and intriguing character was violently anti-British, and encouraged Hitler in a policy that led to war with Great Britain. His grandiose attempts at alliance-building produced a disastrous military coalition with Italy and Japan, and the infamous Pact with the Soviet Union. It was a career that would end on the gallows at Nuremberg, where he headed the death procession.Written with verve, pace and the subtle intelligence of a world-class biographer, Michael Bloch's universally praised book vividly portrays this bizarre and historically neglected figure.
By Lady Antonia Fraser. 1979
Following a youth of poverty and bitter exile after his father's execution, the ousted king first challenged, then made his…magnificent escape from, Cromwell's troops before he was eventually restored to his throne in triumph in 1660.Spanning his life both before and after the Restoration, Antonia Fraser's lively and fascinating biography captures all the vitality of the man and the expansiveness of the age.
By Godfrey Hodgson. 2010
Martin Luther King left an indelible mark on 20th-century American history through his leadership of the non-violent civil rights campaigns…of the 1950s and 1960s. The election of Barack Obama as America's first black president in November 2008 has spawned a renewed interest in King's role as an agent and prophet of political change in the United States. Writing with verve and clarity but also with acute insight, Godfrey Hodgson traces King's life and career from his birth in Atlanta in 1929, through the campaigns that made possible the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to his assassination in Memphis in 1968. Hodgson sheds light on every aspect of an extraordinary life: the Black Baptist milieu in which King grew up, his theology and political philosophy, his physical and moral courage, his insistence on the injustice of inequality, his campaigning energy, his repeated sexual infidelities. Martin Luther King is a rounded and fascinating portrait of a Christian prophet and the most brilliant orator of his age, the central message of whose life and ministry was that Americans would never be fully free until they accepted that black and white Americans must be equal.
By Countess Of Carnarvon. 2011
'Bright, breezy and unpretentious' Guardian'A loving and faithful portrait of Almina and her world' Countryfile magazine* * * * *…*The story of the real Downton Abbey, told by Lady Fiona Carnarvon, chatelaine of Highclere Castle where the phenomentally successful TV series was filmed.Lady Fiona Carnarvon became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle - the setting of the hit series Downton Abbey - eight years ago. In that time she's become fascinated by the rich history of Highclere, and by the extraordinary people who lived there over the centuries. One person particularly captured Fiona's imagination - Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Almina was the illegitimate daughter of banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild. She was his only daughter and he doted on her. She married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, at 19, with an enormous dowry. At first, life at Highclere was a dizzying mix of sumptuous banquets for 500 and even the occasional royal visitor. Almina oversaw 80 members of staff - many of whom came from families who had worked at Highclere for generations. But when the First World War broke out, life at Highclere changed forever. History intervened and Almina and the staff of Highclere were thrown into one of the most turbulent times of the last century. Almina was forced to draw on her deepest reserves of courage in order to ensure her family, the staff and the castle survived. This is the remarkable story of a lost time. But Highclere remains and in this book, Fiona weaves Almina's journey and those of her family into the heritage and history of one of England's most exquisite Victorian castles.
By Paulina Bren. 2021
From award-winning author Paulina Bren comes the first history of New York&’s most famous residential hotel—The Barbizon—and the remarkable women…who lived there.WELCOME TO NEW YORK&’S LEGENDARY HOTEL FOR WOMEN Liberated from home and hearth by World War I, politically enfranchised and ready to work, women arrived to take their place in the dazzling new skyscrapers of Manhattan. But they did not want to stay in uncomfortable boarding houses. They wanted what men already had—exclusive residential hotels with daily maid service, cultural programs, workout rooms, and private dining. Built in 1927 at the height of the Roaring Twenties, the Barbizon Hotel was intended as a safe haven for the &“Modern Woman&” seeking a career in the arts. It became the place to stay for any ambitious young woman hoping for fame and fortune. Sylvia Plath fictionalized her time there in The Bell Jar, and, over the years, its almost 700 tiny rooms with matching floral curtains and bedspreads housed Titanic survivor Molly Brown; actresses Grace Kelly, Liza Minnelli, Ali MacGraw, Jaclyn Smith, Phylicia Rashad, and Cybill Shepherd; writers Joan Didion, Diane Johnson, Gael Greene, and Meg Wolitzer; and many more. Mademoiselle magazine boarded its summer interns there, as did Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School its students and the Ford Modeling Agency its young models. Before the hotel&’s residents were household names, they were young women arriving at the Barbizon with a suitcase and a dream. Not everyone who passed through the Barbizon&’s doors was destined for success—for some it was a story of dashed hopes—but until 1981, when men were finally let in, the Barbizon offered its residents a room of their own and a life without family obligations or expectations. It gave women a chance to remake themselves however they pleased; it was the hotel that set them free. No place had existed like it before or has since. Beautifully written and impeccably researched, The Barbizon weaves together a tale that has, until now, never been told. It is both a vivid portrait of the lives of these young women who came to New York looking for something more, and an epic history of women&’s ambition.
By Richard Bassett. 2011
How Hitler's spy chief sabotaged the German war effort.Wilhelm Canaris was appointed by Hitler to head the Abwehr (the German…secret service) 18 months after the Nazis came to power. But Canaris turned against the Fuhrer and the Nazi regime, believing that Hitler would start a war Germany could not win. In 1938 he was involved in an attempted coup, undermined by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. In 1940 he sabotaged the German plan to invade England, and fed General Franco vital information that helped him keep Spain out of the war. For years he played a dangerous double game, desperately trying to keep one step ahead of the Gestapo. The SS chief, Heinrich Himmler, became suspicious of the Abwehr and by 1944, when Abwehr personnel were involved in the attempted assassination of Hitler, he had the evidence to arrest Canaris himself. Canaris was executed a few weeks before the end of the war.