The first Plantagenet kings inherited a blood-soaked realm from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic narrative history of courage, treachery, ambition, and deception, Dan Jones resurrects the unruly royal dynasty that preceded the Tudors. They produced England’s best and worst kings: Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice a queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; their son Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and his conniving brother King John, who was forced to grant his people new rights under the Magna Carta, the basis for our own bill of rights. Combining the latest academic research with a gift for storytelling, Jones vividly recreates the great battles of Bannockburn, Crécy, and Sluys and reveals how the maligned kings Edward II and Richard II met their downfalls. This is the era of chivalry and the Black Death, the Knights Templar, the founding of parliament, and the Hundred Years’ War, when England’s national identity was forged by the sword.
The first battle erupted in 1455, but the roots of the conflict reached back to the dawn of the fifteenth century, when the corrupt, hedonistic Richard II was sadistically murdered, and Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king, seized England's throne. Both Henry IV and his son, the cold warrior Henry V, ruled England ably, if not always wisely--but Henry VI proved a disaster, both for his dynasty and his kingdom. Only nine months old when his father's sudden death made him king, Henry VI became a tormented and pathetic figure, weak, sexually inept, and prey to fits of insanity. The factional fighting that plagued his reign escalated into bloody war when Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, laid claim to the throne that was rightfully his--and backed up his claim with armed might.
Alison Weir brings brilliantly to life both the war itself and the historic figures who fought it on the great stage of England. Here are the queens who changed history through their actions--the chic, unconventional Katherine of Valois, Henry V's queen; the ruthless, social-climbing Elizabeth Wydville; and, most crucially, Margaret of Anjou, a far tougher and more powerful character than her husband,, Henry VI, and a central figure in the Wars of the Roses.
Here, too, are the nobles who carried the conflict down through the generations--the Beauforts, the bastard descendants of John of Gaunt, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known to his contemporaries as "the Kingmaker"; and the Yorkist King, Edward IV, a ruthless charmer who pledged his life to cause the downfall of the House of Lancaster.
The Wars of the Roses is history at its very best--swift and compelling, rich in character, pageantry, and drama, and vivid in its re-creation of an astonishing, dangerous, and often grim period of history. Alison Weir, one of the foremost authorities on the British royal family, demonstrates here that she is also one of the most dazzling stylists writing history today.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Helen Rappaport paints a compelling portrait of the doomed grand duchesses." —People magazine
"The public spoke of the sisters in a gentile, superficial manner, but Rappaport captures sections of letters and diary entries to showcase the sisters' thoughtfulness and intelligence." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Days of the Romanovs and Caught in the Revolution, The Romanov Sisters reveals the untold stories of the four daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra.
They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.
Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it.
The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Helen Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution. Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.
“[A] compelling portrait not just of a Russian titan, but also of a flesh-and-blood woman.”—Newsweek
“An absorbing, satisfying biography.”—Los Angeles Times
“Juicy and suspenseful.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A great life, indeed, and irresistibly told.”—Salon
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times • The Washington Post • USA Today • The Boston Globe • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • Salon • Vogue • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Providence Journal • Washington Examiner • South Florida Sun-Sentinel • BookPage • Bookreporter • Publishers Weekly
BONUS: This edition contains a Catherine the Great reader's guide.
Nicknamed ‘The Anarchy' for its unprecedented levels of chaos and disorder, the succession crisis that followed the death of King Henry I in 1135 resulted in England's first civil war.
‘The Medieval Anarchy: History in an Hour’ neatly covers all the major facts and events giving you a clear and straightforward overview of the plots and violence that ensued during the the nineteen-year conflict. ‘The Medieval Anarchy: History in an Hour’ is engagingly written and accessible for all history lovers.
This, in an hour, is the story of ‘The Medieval Anarchy’ through the personalities, context, events and aftermath of England's first, and often forgotten, civil war.
Love your history? Find out about the world with History in an Hour...
In his ambition to provide a male heir to the throne, Henry VIII married six times. Divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, caused England’s break from the Catholic church in Rome. He went on to divorce Anne of Cleves and behead Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard for infidelities. Jane Seymour died and Catherine Parr survived Henry.
Henry VIII’s Wives in an Hour will introduce you to these six entirely diverse and captivating personalities and the events that propelled them to their individual fates. You will learn which wife had what impact on Henry and England and understand why Henry and his six wives form the most popular period of Tudor history.
Know your stuff: read about Henry VIII’s wives in just one hour.
Nearly five hundred years after her violent death, Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII, remains one of the world's most fascinating, controversial, and tragic heroines. Now acclaimed historian and bestselling author Alison Weir has drawn on myriad sources from the Tudor era to give us the first book that examines, in unprecedented depth, the gripping, dark, and chilling story of Anne Boleyn's final days.
The tempestuous love affair between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn scandalized Christendom and altered forever the religious landscape of England. Anne's ascent from private gentlewoman to queen was astonishing, but equally compelling was her shockingly swift downfall. Charged with high treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London in May 1536, Anne met her terrible end all the while protesting her innocence. There remains, however, much mystery surrounding the queen's arrest and the events leading up to it: Were charges against her fabricated because she stood in the way of Henry VIII making a third marriage and siring an heir, or was she the victim of a more complex plot fueled by court politics and deadly rivalry?
The Lady in the Tower examines in engrossing detail the motives and intrigues of those who helped to seal the queen's fate. Weir unravels the tragic tale of Anne's fall, from her miscarriage of the son who would have saved her to the horrors of her incarceration and that final, dramatic scene on the scaffold. What emerges is an extraordinary portrayal of a woman of great courage whose enemies were bent on utterly destroying her, and who was tested to the extreme by the terrible plight in which she found herself.
Richly researched and utterly captivating, The Lady in the Tower presents the full array of evidence of Anne Boleyn's guilt—or innocence. Only in Alison Weir's capable hands can readers learn the truth about the fate of one of the most influential and important women in English history.
Against the monumental canvas of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and Russia unfolds the magnificent story of Peter the Great, crowned co-tsar at the age of ten. The acclaimed author of Catherine the Great, Robert K. Massie delves deep into the life of this captivating historical figure, chronicling the pivotal events that shaped a boy into a legend—including his “incognito” travels in Europe, his unquenchable curiosity about Western ways, his obsession with the sea and establishment of the stupendous Russian navy, his creation of an unbeatable army, his transformation of Russia, and his relationships with those he loved most: Catherine, the robust yet gentle peasant, his loving mistress, wife, and successor; and Menshikov, the charming, bold, unscrupulous prince who rose to wealth and power through Peter’s friendship. Impetuous and stubborn, generous and cruel, tender and unforgiving, a man of enormous energy and complexity, Peter the Great is brought fully to life.
The Modern Library of the World’s Best Books
Peter the Great
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Enthralling . . . as fascinating as any novel and more so than most.”—The New York Times Book Review
Nicholas and Alexandra
“A magnificent and intimate picture . . . Not only the main characters but a whole era become alive and comprehensible.”—Harper’s
“Riveting . . . unfolds like a detective story.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
This richly entertaining biography chronicles the eventful life of Queen Victoria’s firstborn son, the quintessential black sheep of Buckingham Palace, who matured into as wise and effective a monarch as Britain has ever seen. Granted unprecedented access to the royal archives, noted scholar Jane Ridley draws on numerous primary sources to paint a vivid portrait of the man and the age to which he gave his name.
Born Prince Albert Edward, and known to familiars as “Bertie,” the future King Edward VII had a well-earned reputation for debauchery. A notorious gambler, glutton, and womanizer, he preferred the company of wastrels and courtesans to the dreary life of the Victorian court. His own mother considered him a lazy halfwit, temperamentally unfit to succeed her. When he ascended to the throne in 1901, at age fifty-nine, expectations were low. Yet by the time he died nine years later, he had proven himself a deft diplomat, hardworking head of state, and the architect of Britain’s modern constitutional monarchy.
Jane Ridley’s colorful biography rescues the man once derided as “Edward the Caresser” from the clutches of his historical detractors. Excerpts from letters and diaries shed new light on Bertie’s long power struggle with Queen Victoria, illuminating one of the most emotionally fraught mother-son relationships in history. Considerable attention is paid to King Edward’s campaign of personal diplomacy abroad and his valiant efforts to reform the political system at home. Separating truth from legend, Ridley also explores Bertie’s relationships with the women in his life. Their ranks comprised his wife, the stunning Danish princess Alexandra, along with some of the great beauties of the era: the actress Lillie Langtry, longtime “royal mistress” Alice Keppel (the great-grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles), and Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston.
Edward VII waited nearly six decades for his chance to rule, then did so with considerable panache and aplomb. A magnificent life of an unexpectedly impressive king, The Heir Apparent documents the remarkable transformation of a man—and a monarchy—at the dawn of a new century.
Praise for The Heir Apparent
“If [The Heir Apparent] isn’t the definitive life story of this fascinating figure of British history, then nothing ever will be.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“The Heir Apparent is smart, it’s fascinating, it’s sometimes funny, it’s well-documented and it reads like a novel, with Bertie so vivid he nearly leaps from the page, cigars and all.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I closed The Heir Apparent with admiration and a kind of wry exhilaration.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Ridley is a serious scholar and historian, who keeps Bertie’s flaws and virtues in a fine balance.”—The Boston Globe
“Brilliantly entertaining . . . a landmark royal biography.”—The Sunday Telegraph
“Superb.”—The New York Times Book Review
From the Hardcover edition.
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
At his death in 1547, King Henry VIII left four heirs to the English throne: his only son, the nine-year-old Prince Edward; the Lady Mary, the adult daughter of his first wife Katherine of Aragon; the Lady Elizabeth, the teenage daughter of his second wife Anne Boleyn; and his young great-niece, the Lady Jane Grey. In this riveting account Alison Weir paints a unique portrait of these extraordinary rulers, examining their intricate relationships to each other and to history. She traces the tumult that followed Henry's death, from the brief intrigue-filled reigns of the boy king Edward VI and the fragile Lady Jane Grey, to the savagery of "Bloody Mary," and finally the accession of the politically adroit Elizabeth I.
As always, Weir offers a fresh perspective on a period that has spawned many of the most enduring myths in English history, combining the best of the historian's and the biographer's art.
"Like anthropology, history and biography can demonstrate unfamiliar ways of feeling and being. Alison Weir's sympathetic collective biography, The Children of Henry VIII does just that, reminding us that human nature has changed--and for the better. . . . Weir imparts movement and coherence while re-creating the suspense her characters endured and the suffering they inflicted."
--The New York Times Book Review
From the Trade Paperback edition.
King of England, claimant King of France, Lord – and later King – of Ireland, Supreme Head of the Church of England and, perhaps most famously, six times a husband, Henry VIII is England’s most notorious monarch.
Succeeding his father, Henry VII, he allied with the Holy Roman Emperor and began his many obsessive invasions of France. Meanwhile the handsome, worldly king embarked on his famous quests for a suitable wife and heir. With marriage to Anne Boleyn came the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. From his childhood to his later years and famed appetites for food, sex and validation, ‘Henry VIII: History in an Hour’ describes the life of a man whose desires and determination changed England and the world.
Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour...
“Kate Williams has perfected the art of historical biography. Her pacy writing is underpinned by the most impeccable scholarship.”—Alison Weir
In 1819, a girl was born to the fourth son of King George III. No one could have expected such an unassuming, overprotected girl to be an effective ruler—yet Queen Victoria would become one of the most powerful monarchs in history.
Writing with novelistic flair and historical precision, Kate Williams reveals a vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations that continued even after the crown was placed on her head. Upon hearing that she had inherited the throne, eighteen-year-old Victoria banished her overambitious mother from the room, a simple yet resolute move that would set the tone for her reign. The queen clashed constantly not only with her mother and her mother’s adviser, the Irish adventurer John Conroy, but with her ministers and even her beloved Prince Albert—all of whom attempted to seize control from her.
Williams lays bare the passions that swirled around the throne—the court secrets, the sexual repression, and the endless intrigue. The result is a grand tale of a woman whose destiny began long before she was born and whose legacy lives on.
Praise for Becoming Queen Victoria
“An informative, entertaining, gossipy tale.”—Publishers Weekly
“A great read . . . With lively writing, Ms. Williams [makes] the story fresh and appealing.”—The Washington Times
“Sparkling, engaging.”—Open Letters Monthly
The daughter of the American ambassador to the Court of St James’s, Kick swept into Britain’s aristocracy like a fresh wind on a sweltering summer day. In a decaying world where everything was based on stultifying sameness and similarity, she was gloriously, exhilaratingly different. Kick was the girl whom all the boys fell in love with, the girl who remained painfully out of reach for most of them.
To Kick, everything about this life was fun and amusing—until suddenly it was not. For this is also a story of how a girl like Kick, a girl who had everything, a girl who seemed made for happiness, confronted crushing sadness. Willing to pay the price for choosing the love she wanted, she would have to face the consequences of forsaking much that was dear to her.
Bestselling and award-winning biographer Barbara Leaming draws on her unique access to firsthand accounts, extensive conversations with many of the key players, and previously-unseen sources to transport us to another world, one of immense wealth, arcane rituals and rules, glamour and tragedy, that has now disappeared forever. It was a world of dukes and duchesses, of grand houses, of country house weekends, and of wild rich boys. But it was also a world of blood and war, and of immeasurable loss.
It was a time of complete upheaval, as reflected in the life of this most unlikely and unforgettable central character. Kick Kennedy reveals her story, that of a young girl learning about love, sex, and death—and doing it all at warp speed as the world races toward war and then reels in the war’s chaotic aftermath. This is the coming-of-age story of the female star of the Kennedy family, and ultimately a tragic, romantic story that will break your heart.
History knows no monarch like her. She has traveled farther than all her predecessors combined, lived the longest of any of them, and known more historic figures—from Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela, Charles de Gaulle to Barack Obama—than anyone alive. Now, distinguished royal writer Robert Hardman has been granted special access to the world of Queen Elizabeth II in order to produce an unparalleled portrait of one of the most popular public figures on earth.
Arguably Britain’s best-known observer of the royal family, Hardman follows Elizabeth’s journey through her country’s transformation from an imperial power to a multicultural nation; details a twenty-five-year period in which she steered the monarchy through more reforms than in the previous century; and interviews those closest to her, including her grandson Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
Written in celebration of Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Her Majesty celebrates the head of an ancient institution that remains simultaneously popular, regal, inclusive, and relevant in a twenty-first-century world. “At long last, we have the definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth’s world today,” raves Andrew Roberts, author of The Royal House of Windsor. “Robert Hardman knows the true story and tells it superbly.”
Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.
Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers—the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards.
As Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England’s rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth’s possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth’s subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry’s firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort—pious and generous—who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII.
Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today’s British monarch—a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England’s most beloved consorts.
Praise for Elizabeth of York
“Weir tells Elizabeth’s story well. . . . She is a meticulous scholar. . . . Most important, Weir sincerely admires her subject, doing honor to an almost forgotten queen.”—The New York Times Book Review
“In [Alison] Weir’s skillful hands, Elizabeth of York returns to us, full-bodied and three-dimensional. This is a must-read for Tudor fans!”—Historical Novels Review
“This bracing biography reveals a woman of integrity, who . . . helped [her husband] lay strong groundwork for the success of the new Tudor dynasty. As always in a Weir book, the tenor of the times is drawn with great color and authenticity.”—Booklist
“Weir once again demonstrates that she is an outstanding portrayer of the Tudor era, giving us a fully realized biography of a remarkable woman.”—Huntington News
From the Trade Paperback edition.
David McCullough takes us along on the exhilarating journey to Missouri to find "The Unexpected Harry Truman."
Richard B. Sewall describes his twenty-year search for the elusive poet, Emily Dickinson.
Paul C. Nagel tells us about "The Adams Women" - four generations of women he came to admire while writing his earlier biography of the Adams family.
Ronald Steel, author of a much-honored biography of the nation's greatest journalist, recalls in "Living with Walter Lippman," how the life of the biographer can become entwined with that of his subject.
Jean Strouse, on the trail of J. P. Morgan, discusses the fact that "there are two reasons why a man does anything, a good reason and a real reason."
Robert A. Caro reveals the frustrations of trying to unearth the true facts about Lyndon Johnson, a man who went to great pains to conceal them.
Together, these six biographers take us through a gallery of unique American lives - most of them moving, many of them startling, and all of them extraordinary.
The inspiration for the Channel 5 series Britain's Bloody Crown
The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors.
Some of the greatest heroes and villains of history were thrown together in these turbulent times, from Joan of Arc to Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt marked the high point of the medieval monarchy, and Richard III, who murdered his own nephews in a desperate bid to secure his stolen crown. This was a period when headstrong queens and consorts seized power and bent men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this dramatic narrative history revels in bedlam and intrigue. It also offers a long-overdue corrective to Tudor propaganda, dismantling their self-serving account of what they called the Wars of the Roses.
When Diana: Her True Story was first published in 1992, it forever changed the way the public viewed the British monarchy. Greeted initially with disbelief and ridicule, the #1 New York Times bestselling biography has become a unique literary classic, not just because of its explosive contents but also because of Diana’s intimate involvement in the publication. Never before had a senior royal spoken in such a raw, unfiltered way about her unhappy marriage, her relationship with the Queen, her extraordinary life inside the House of Windsor, her hopes, her fears, and her dreams. Now, twenty-five years on, biographer Andrew Morton has revisited the secret tapes he and the late princess made to reveal startling new insights into her life and mind. In this fully revised edition of his groundbreaking biography, Morton considers Diana’s legacy and her relevance to the modern royal family.
An icon in life and a legend in death, Diana continues to fascinate. Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words is the closest we will ever come to her autobiography.
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Alison Weir’s Mary Boleyn.
Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power, celebrated for his intellect, presided over the most stylish—and dangerous—court in Renaissance Europe. Scheming cardinals vied for power with newly rich landowners and merchants, brilliant painters and architects introduced a new splendor into art and design, and each of Henry's six queens brought her own influence to bear upon the life of the court. In her new book, Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of Henry VIII and the glittering court he made his own.
In an age when a monarch's domestic and political lives were inextricably intertwined, a king as powerful and brilliant as Henry VIII exercised enormous sway over the laws, the customs, and the culture of his kingdom. Yet as Weir shows in this swift, vivid narrative, Henry's ministers, nobles, and wives were formidable figures in their own right, whose influence both enhanced and undermined the authority of the throne. On a grand stage rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir records the many complex human dramas that swirled around Henry, while deftly weaving in an account of the intimate rituals and desires of England's ruling class—their sexual practices, feasts and sports, tastes in books and music, houses and gardens.
Stimulating and tumultuous, the court of Henry VIII attracted the finest minds and greatest beauties in Renaissance England—poets Wyatt and Surrey, the great portraitist Hans Holbein, "feasting ladies" like Elizabeth Blount and Elizabeth FitzWalter, the newly rich Boleyn family and the ancient aristocratic clans like the Howards and the Percies, along with the entourages and connections that came and went with each successive wife. The interactions between these individuals, and the terrible ends that befell so many of them, make Henry VIII: The King and His Court an absolutely spellbinding read.
Meticulous in historic detail, narrated with high style and grand drama, Alison Weir brilliantly brings to life the king, the court, and the fascinating men and women who vied for its pleasures and rewards.
NOTE: This edition does not contain illustrations.
Here are the stories of Alexandra, whose enduring love story, controversial faith in Rasputin, and tragic end have become the stuff of legend; Marie, the flamboyant and eccentric queen who battled her way through a life of intrigues and was also the mother of two Balkan queens and of the scandalous Carol II of Romania; Victoria Eugenie, Spain's very English queen who, like Alexandra, introduced hemophilia into her husband's family-with devastating consequences for her marriage; Maud, King Edward VII's daughter, who was independent Norway's reluctant queen; and Sophie, Kaiser Wilhelm II's much maligned sister, daughter of an Emperor and herself the mother of no less than three kings and a queen, who ended her days in bitter exile.
Born to Rule evokes a world of luxury, wealth, and power in a bygone era, while also recounting the ordeals suffered by a unique group of royal women who at times faced poverty, exile, and death. Praised in their lifetimes for their legendary beauty, many of these women were also lauded-and reviled-for their political influence. Using never before published letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents, secondary sources, and interviews with descendents of the subjects, Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is an astonishing and memorable work of popular history.
We all know how the fairy tale ended: When King George died, "Uncle David" became King Edward VIII---who abdicated less than a year later to marry the scandalous Wallis Simpson. Suddenly the little princesses' father was King. The family moved to Buckingham Palace, and ten-year-old Princess Elizabeth became the heir to the crown she would ultimately wear for over fifty years.
The Little Princesses shows us how it all began. In the early thirties, the Duke and Duchess of York were looking for someone to educate their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, then five- and two-years-old. They already had a nanny---a family retainer who had looked after their mother when she was a child---but it was time to add someone younger and livelier to the household.
Enter Marion Crawford, a twenty-four-year-old from Scotland who was promptly dubbed "Crawfie" by the young Elizabeth and who would stay with the family for sixteen years. Beginning at the quiet family home in Piccadilly and ending with the birth of Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1948, Crawfie tells how she brought the princesses up to be "Royal," while attempting to show them a bit of the ordinary world of underground trains, Girl Guides, and swimming lessons.
The Little Princesses was first published in 1950 to a furor we cannot imagine today. It has been called the original "nanny diaries" because it was the first account of life with the Royals ever published. Although hers was a touching account of the childhood of the Queen and Princess Margaret, Crawfie was demonized by the press. The Queen Mother, who had been a great friend and who had, Crawfie maintained, given her permission to write the account, never spoke to her again.
Reading The Little Princesses now, with a poignant new introduction by BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond, offers fascinating insights into the changing lives and times of Britains royal family.
After the untimely death of Prince Albert, the queen and her nation were plunged into a state of grief so profound that this one event would dramatically alter the shape of the British monarchy. For Britain had not just lost a prince: during his twenty year marriage to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert had increasingly performed the function of King in all but name. The outpouring of grief after Albert's death was so extreme, that its like would not be seen again until the death of Princess Diana 136 years later.
Drawing on many letters, diaries and memoirs from the Royal Archives and other neglected sources, as well as the newspapers of the day, Rappaport offers a new perspective on this compelling historical psychodrama--the crucial final months of the prince's life and the first long, dark ten years of the Queen's retreat from public view. She draws a portrait of a queen obsessed with her living husband and – after his death – with his enduring place in history. Magnificent Obsession will also throw new light on the true nature of the prince's chronic physical condition, overturning for good the 150-year old myth that he died of typhoid fever.
Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.
Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married—was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The early 1850s until the late 1920s marked a turbulent and significant era for Russia. During that time the country underwent a massive transformation, taking it from days of grandeur under the tsars to the chaos of revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet Union.
At the center of all this tumult were four women of the Romanov dynasty. Marie Alexandrovna and Olga Constantinovna were born into the family, Russian Grand Duchesses at birth. Marie Feodorovna and Marie Pavlovna married into the dynasty, the former born a Princess of Denmark, the latter a Duchess of the German duchy of Mecklendburg-Schwerin.
In From Splendor to Revolution, we watch these pampered aristocratic women fight for their lives as the cataclysm of war engulfs them. In a matter of a few short years, they fell from the pinnacle of wealth and power to the depths of danger, poverty, and exile. It is an unforgettable epic story.
"This collection shines a light onto the character and experience of one of the most interesting of monarchs. . . . We are likely never to get a closer or clearer look at her. An intriguing and intense portrait of a woman who figures so importantly in the birth of our modern world."—Publishers Weekly
"An admirable scholarly edition of the queen's literary output. . . . This anthology will excite scholars of Elizabethan history, but there is something here for all of us who revel in the English language."—John Cooper, Washington Times
"Substantial, scholarly, but accessible. . . . An invaluable work of reference."—Patrick Collinson, London Review of Books
"In a single extraordinary volume . . . Marcus and her coeditors have collected the Virgin Queen's letters, speeches, poems and prayers. . . . An impressive, heavily footnoted volume."—Library Journal
"This excellent anthology of [Elizabeth's] speeches, poems, prayers and letters demonstrates her virtuosity and afford the reader a penetrating insight into her 'wiles and understandings.'"—Anne Somerset, New Statesman
"Here then is the only trustworthy collection of the various genres of Elizabeth's writings. . . . A fine edition which will be indispensable to all those interested in Elizabeth I and her reign."—Susan Doran, History
"In the torrent of words about her, the queen's own words have been hard to find. . . . [This] volume is a major scholarly achievement that makes Elizabeth's mind much more accessible than before. . . . A veritable feast of material in different genres."—David Norbrook, The New Republic
Dark History of The Kings & Queens of England provides an exciting and dramatic account of English royal history from 1066 to the present day. This engrossing book explores the scandal and intrigue behind each royal dynasty, from the ‘accidental’ murder of William II in 1100, through the excesses of Richard III, Henry VIII and ‘Bloody’ Mary, to the conspiracies surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.
Carefully researched, superbly entertaining and illustrated throughout with more than 200 colour and black-and-white photographs and artworks, this accessible and immensely enjoyable book highlights the true personalities and real lives of the individuals honoured with the crown of England—and those unfortunate enough to cross their paths.
The lives of the Romanovs were full of color and drama, but the personal life of Alexandra has remained enigmatic. Under Erickson's masterful scrutiny the full dimensions of the Empresses' singular psychology are revealed: her childhood bereavement, her long struggle to attain her romantic goal of marriage to Nicholas, the anguish of her pathological shyness, her struggles with her in-laws, her false pregnancy, her increasing eccentricities and loss of self as she became more preoccupied with matters of faith, and her increasing dependence on a series of occult mentors, the most notorious of whom was Rasputin. With meticulous care, long practiced skill, and generous imagination, Erickson crafts a character who lives and breathes.
In this highly anticipated biography Goldsworthy puts his deep knowledge of ancient sources to full use, recounting the events of Augustus’ long life in greater detail than ever before. Goldsworthy pins down the man behind the myths: a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless. Under Augustus’ rule the empire prospered, yet his success was never assured and the events of his life unfolded with exciting unpredictability. Goldsworthy captures the passion and savagery, the public image and private struggles of the real man whose epic life continues to influence western history.
Elegant palaces, dazzling power plays, shimmering jewels, and the grandest of all-or-nothing gambles—nothing can top real-life love among the royalty. Louis XIV defied God and law, permitting his married mistress Madame de Montespan to usurp the role of Queen of France, then secretly wed her successor, Madame de Maintenon. Grigory Potemkin was a worthy equal in Catherine the Great’s bed as well as in Russia’s political arena. Dashing Count Axel von Fersen risked everything to save Marie Antoinette’s life more than once—and may have returned her passion. The unshakable devotion of the beloved late “Queen Mum” helped King George VI triumph over his, and England’s, darkest hours. And the unpretentious, timelessly glamorous—even relatable—union of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton continues to enthrall the world.
Full of marvelous tales, unforgettable scandals, and bedazzled nobles who refused to rule their hearts, this delightfully insightful book is what the sweetest royal dreams are made of...
The mystery of who Richard III really was has fascinated historians, readers and audiences familiar with Shakespeare's dastardly portrait of a hunchback monster of royalty for centuries. Earlier this year, the remains of a man with a curving spine, who possible was killed in battle, were discovered underneath the paving of a parking lot in Leicester, England. Phillipa Langley, head of The Richard III Society, spurred on by the work of the historian Michael Jones, led the team of who uncovered the remains, certain that she had found the bones of the monarch. When DNA verification later confirmed that the skeleton was, indeed, that of King Richard III, the discovery ranks among the great stories of passionate intuition and perseverance against the odds. The news of the discovery of Richard's remains has been widely reported by the British as well as worldwide and was front page news for both the New York Times and The Washington Post. Many believe that now, with King Richard III's skeleton in hand, historians will finally begin to understand what happened to him following the Battle of Bosworth Field (twenty miles or so from Leicester) and, ultimately, to know whether he was the hateful, unscrupulous monarch of Shakespeare's drama or a much more benevolent king interested in the common man. Written in alternating chapters, with Richard's 15th century life told by historian Michael Jones (author of the critically acclaimed Bosworth - 1485) contrasting with the 21st century eyewitness account of the search and discovery of the body by Philippa Langley, The King's Grave will be both an extraordinary portrait of the last Plantagenet monarch and the inspiring story of the archaeological dig that finally brings the real King Richard III into the light of day.
Despite five centuries of investigation by historians, the sinister deaths of the boy king Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, remain one of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history. Did Richard III really kill the young princes, as is commonly believed, or was the murderer someone else entirely? Carefully examining every shred of contemporary evidence as well as the dozens of modern accounts, Weir reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder to arrive at a conclusion Sherlock Holmes himself could not dispute.
From the Hardcover edition.
The New Statesman Book of the Year selection by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
BBC History Magazine Book of the Year selection by Helen Rappaport
"A masterpiece . . . . [T]his heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner." —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
"[A] fascinating, story-filled account . . . . Each story is a revelation." —Jenny Uglow, The Guardian
The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III's radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children
In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether—compelling and relatable.
He was the first of Britain's three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.
Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king—a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background—of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal—George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.
The struggle of King George—along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children—to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for decades and brought a medieval empire into the modern age.
At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China—behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.
In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought against monumental obstacles to change China. Under her the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, electricity, the telegraph and an army and navy with up-to-date weaponry. It was she who abolished gruesome punishments like “death by a thousand cuts” and put an end to foot-binding. She inaugurated women’s liberation and embarked on the path to introduce parliamentary elections to China. Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot.
Cixi reigned during extraordinary times and had to deal with a host of major national crises: the Taiping and Boxer rebellions, wars with France and Japan—and an invasion by eight allied powers including Britain, Germany, Russia and the United States. Jung Chang not only records the Empress Dowager’s conduct of domestic and foreign affairs, but also takes the reader into the depths of her splendid Summer Palace and the harem of Beijing’s Forbidden City, where she lived surrounded by eunuchs—one of whom she fell in love, with tragic consequences. The world Chang describes here, in fascinating detail, seems almost unbelievable in its extraordinary mixture of the very old and the very new.
Based on newly available, mostly Chinese, historical documents such as court records, official and private correspondence, diaries and eyewitness accounts, this biography will revolutionize historical thinking about a crucial period in China’s—and the world’s—history. Packed with drama, fast paced and gripping, it is both a panoramic depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman: as the concubine to a monarch, as the absolute ruler of a third of the world’s population, and as a unique stateswoman.
From the Hardcover edition.
An epic historical tapestry, this wonderfully wrought narrative brings to life what Americans should know about China -- the superpower we are inextricably linked with -- the way its people think and their code of behavior, both vastly different from our own.
The story revolves around this fascinating woman and her family: her father, a peasant who raised himself into Shanghai society and sent his daughters to college in America in a day when Chinese women were kept purposefully uneducated; her mother, an unlikely Methodist from the Mandarin class; her husband, a military leader and dogmatic warlord; her sisters, one married to Sun Yat-sen, the George Washington of China, the other to a seventy-fifth lineal descendant of Confucius; and her older brother, a financial genius.
This was the Soong family, which, along with their partners in marriage, was largely responsible for dragging China into the twentieth century. Brilliantly narrated, this fierce and bloody drama also includes U.S. Army General Joseph Stilwell; Claire Chennault, head of the Flying Tigers; Communist leaders Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai; murderous warlords; journalists Henry Luce, Theodore White, and Edgar Snow; and the unfortunate State Department officials who would be purged for predicting (correctly) the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War.
As the representative of an Eastern ally in the West, Madame Chiang was befriended -- before being rejected -- by the Roosevelts, stayed in the White House for long periods during World War II, and charmed the U.S. Congress into giving China billions of dollars. Although she was dubbed the Dragon Lady in some quarters, she was an icon to her people and is certainly one of the most remarkable women of the twentieth century.
With the biographer’s rare genius for expressing the essence of extraordinary lives, Massie brings to life a crowd of glittery figures: the single-minded Admiral von Tirpitz; the young, ambitious Winston Churchill; the ruthless, sycophantic Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow; Britain’s greatest twentieth-century foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey; and Jacky Fisher, the eccentric admiral who revolutionized the British navy and brought forth the first true battleship, the H.M.S. Dreadnought.
Their story, and the story of the era, filled with misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and events leading to unintended conclusions, unfolds like a Greek tragedy in this powerful narrative. Intimately human and dramatic, Dreadnought is history at its most riveting.
Praise for Dreadnought
“Dreadnought is history in the grand manner, as most people prefer it: how people shaped, or were shaped by, events.”—Time
“A classic [that] covers superbly a whole era . . . engrossing in its glittering gallery of characters.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“[Told] on a grand scale . . . Massie [is] a master of historical portraiture and anecdotage.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Brilliant on everything he writes about ships and the sea. It is Massie’s eye for detail that makes his nautical set pieces so marvelously evocative.”—Los Angeles Times
This unique book is the result of a scrupulous worldwide search for every one of Diana's significant quotes. Upon reading this collection, one will find that behind her shy veneer dwelled a woman of extraordinary resourcefulness, stamina, and, perhaps above all, vulnerability. In fact, her open frankness about the events and people around her is both disarming and startling. The reader will discover the sharp clarity, endless warmth, and ready wit that she brought to her legendary life in this intimate self-portrait. This is the closest we will ever get to an autobiography from the People's Princess.
Through brilliant and often darkly comic portraits of these men and their lives, their foibles and obsessions, Miranda Carter delivers the tragicomic story of Europe’s early twentieth-century aristocracy, a solipsistic world preposterously out of kilter with its times.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From claims that Diana was ready to leave Charles just weeks before the wedding to her lifelong battle against depression, from world-exclusive interviews with Diana's beau James Hewitt and her "surrogate mother-in-law" Shirley Hewitt to details about the unconventional "arrangements" in the royal household -- between Diana and James, Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles -- Diana is an honest, objective, and unparalleled biography.
With thirty-two photographs -- including several never before published -- Diana shows all facets of this fascinating woman: her magic, her manipulations, her dazzling public persona, and her place in her people's hearts and
His face is recognized the world over, his story is well known. But what is Prince William really like? As Diana’s eldest son, he was her confidant. While the tabloids eagerly lapped up the lurid details of his parents’ divorce, William lived painfully through it, suffering the embarrassment, the humiliation, and divided loyalties. He watched his father denounced on prime time television; he met the lovers. And when he was just fifteen, his beautiful, loving mother was suddenly, shocking snatched from his life forever. The nation lost its princess and its grief threatened the very future of the monarchy. What was almost forgotten in the clamor was that two small boys had lost their mother. His childhood was a recipe for disaster, yet as he approaches his thirtieth birthday, William is as well-balanced and sane a man as you could ever hope to meet. He has an utter determination to do the right thing and to serve his country as his grandmother has so successfully done for the last sixty years. Who stopped him from going off the rails, turning his back on his duty and wanting nothing to do with the press—the people he blamed for his mother’s death? Where did the qualities that have so entranced the world, and his new bride, Catherine, come from? In the last thirty years, Penny Junor has written extensively about his parents and the extended family into which he was born. With the trust built up over that time, she has been able to get closer to the answers than ever before.
Here, from award-winning historian Ian Grey, is its dramatic story - from the establishment of the first ruling dynasty by a Viking prince to the invasions of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan to the rise of the tsars, whose domination of their country stretched nearly four centuries until the violent overthrow of Nicholas II in 1918.
New York Times bestselling historian Ian Grey threads his way through these turbulent centuries, his focus on the private lives of the tsars themselves, the rulers whose personal histories are entwined with the history of the empire. He brings to life the passions, rages, intrigues, and greatness of the remarkable men and women who guided the destiny of Russia and changed the world.
How and why a King--God's annointed--could be executed for treason are questions that underscore the profound changes that politics and political thought were undergoing at this time. To provide a window into this pivotal period, accounts of the trial and execution taken from contemporary newspapers, pamphlets, and official records, are collected here and edited for modern readers. This compilation of eyewitness accounts has been arranged to sketch a dramatic day-by-day narrative of that fateful month, introducing the important issues in a way that brings readers close to the making of these great events. The speeches at the trial make especially vivid the clash between two contrasting theories of government--that of a divine monarchy in which a king is deemed essential to the true liberty of his people, and that of a commonwealth in which sovereignty rests with the people and is exercised by its representatives.
Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers. But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to the executioner. And they are hardly alone in their undignified demises. Throughout history, royal women have had a distressing way of meeting bad ends--dying of starvation, being burned at the stake, or expiring in childbirth while trying desperately to produce an heir. They always had to be on their toes and all too often even devious plotting, miraculous pregnancies, and selling out their sisters was not enough to keep them from forcible consignment to religious orders. From Cleopatra (suicide by asp), to Princess Caroline (suspiciously poisoned on her coronation day), there’s a gory downside to being blue-blooded when you lack a Y chromosome. Kris Waldherr’s elegant little book is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of queens across the ages, a quirky, funny, utterly macabre tribute to the dark side of female empowerment. Over the course of fifty irresistibly illustrated and too-brief lives, Doomed Queens charts centuries of regal backstabbing and intrigue. We meet well-known figures like Catherine of Aragon, whose happy marriage to Henry VIII ended prematurely when it became clear that she was a starter wife--the first of six. And we meet forgotten queens like Amalasuntha, the notoriously literate Ostrogoth princess who overreached politically and was strangled in her bath. While their ends were bleak, these queens did not die without purpose. Their unfortunate lives are colorful cautionary tales for today’s would-be power brokers--a legacy of worldly and womanly wisdom gathered one spectacular regal ruin at a time.
Rasputin's name has become synonymous with evil, but his legend has obscured the facts of his life. In this evocative biography, Brian Moynahan presents us with a flesh-and-blood Rasputin, more fascinating than the myth--a man in whom debauchery coexisted beside a real (if erratic) spiritual sense, a man whose coarseness hid a savvy awareness of human psychology. Drawing on confidential police reports, cabinet meeting memos, and other documents, some available only since the fall of the Soviet Union, Moynahan sheds new light on Rasputin's life and disputes some of the widely held details of his death.
The young Rasputin was a drinker, thief, and womanizer. He claimed to have religious visions and became a wandering holy man, preaching that exposure to sin could drive out sin. He stormed the fashionable salons of St. Petersburg, and in 1905 he met Nicholas and Alexandra, who, increasingly despised by the sophisticated, found in Rasputin reassurance that the "real Russia, the simple and pious peasantry, loved them. Rasputin's mysterious ability to stop the bleeding attacks of their hemophiliac only son, Alexis, sealed the approval of the domineering Alexandra. With royal patronage, Rasputin became increasingly reckless, partying with prostitutes, peddling influence, plotting the disgrace of those who crossed him. Ever contradictory, he was also a devoted family man, a defender of the poor, and a figure of immense charisma. As Germany battered Russia during World War I, as Nicholas's ineptitude as a leader became ever more rampant and the masses went hungry, Rasputin seemed to monarchists to be the cause, and not just the symptom, of corrupt government. A group of conspirators gathered--among them a grand duke and a scion of the richest family in Russia--and one of the most famous murders in history was planned.
Set against the vivid backdrop of prerevolutionary Russia, Rasputin is a portrait of an age as well as of a man.
NOTE: This edition does not include photographs.
It was the love story of the century--the king and the commoner. In December 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry "the woman I love," Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced American who quickly became one of the twentieth century's most famous personalities, a figure of intrigue and mystery, both admired and reviled.
"Never explain, never complain."
Wrongly blamed for the abdication crisis, Wallis suffered hostility from the Royal Family and much of the world. Yet interest in her story has remained constant, resulting in a small library of biographies that convey a thinly veiled animosity toward their subject. The truth, however, is infinitely more fascinating than the shallow, pathetic portrait that has often been painted.
"For a gallant spirit, there can never be defeat."
Using previously untapped sources, acclaimed biographer Greg King presents a complete and, for the first time, sympathetic portrait of the Duchess that sifts the decades of rumor and accusation to reveal the woman behind the legend. From her birth in Pennsylvania during the Gilded Age to her death in Paris in 1986, King takes the reader through a world of privilege, palaces, high society, and love with the accompaniment of hatreds, feuds, conspiracies, and lies. The cast of characters is vast: politicians and presidents, dictators and socialites. Twenty-four pages of photographs reveal the life of the Duchess in all its incomparable glamour and romance.
The royal family have been through a tumultuous decade, but with the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, Prince Philip’s 90th birthday and the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee celebrations, there is renewed interest and appreciation of our monarchy. The Queen is an in-depth look at the woman at the centre of it all and is the only biography to take Elizabeth II seriously as the subject of historical biography, or to examine the influences that formed her and the ideas she represents.
Ben Pimlott (described by Andrew Marr in the Independent as ‘the best writer of political biography now writing’) treats the Head of State to the rigorous and objective scrutiny he applied to major political personalities, using a wide range of sources, including interviews, diaries and letters, and papers in the Royal Archives.
The Queen looks at the social, political and psychological aspects of his subject in detail, as well as at the changing role of Monarchy in the British Constitution. In the process, the book displays all the author’s formidable analytic and narrative skills, and provides a gripping yet sensitive account of one of the most publicised – yet least known – figures of our time. It is vital reading for all those who care about public life in Britain – past, present and to come.
Note that it has not been possible to include the same picture content that appeared in the original print version.
The monarchy is one of Britain’s longest surviving institutions – as well as one of its most tumultuous and revered. In this masterful book, David Starkey looks at the monarchy as a whole, charting its history from Roman times, to the Wars of the Roses, the chaos of the Civil War, the fall of Charles I and Cromwell's emergence as Lord Protector – all the way up until the Victorian era when Britain’s monarchs came face-to-face with modernity.
This brilliant collection of biographies of Britain’s kings and queens provides an in-depth examination of what the British monarchy has meant, what it means now and what it will continue to mean. Bringing to life a cast of colourful characters, Starkey’s trademark energy and authority make him the perfect guide on this epic, accessible and compelling journey, as he offers us a vivid portrait of British culture, politics and nationhood through an institution that has defined the realm for nearly two thousand years.
Second wife of the emperor Augustus, mother of his successor Tiberius, grandmother of Claudius and great grandmother of Caligula, the empress Livia lived close to the center of Roman political power for eight turbulent decades. Her life spanned the years of Rome's transformation from Republic to Empire, and witnessed both its triumphs under the rule of Augustus and its lapse into instability under his dysfunctional successor.
Livia was given the honorific title Augusta in her husband's will, and was posthumously deified by the emperor Claudius—but posterity would prove less respectful. The Roman historian Tacitus anathematized her as "malevolent" and a "feminine bully" and inspired Robert Graves's celebrated twentieth-century depiction of Livia in I, Claudius as the quintessence of the scheming matriarch, poisoning her relatives one by one to smooth her son's path to the imperial throne.
Livia, Empress of Rome rescues the historical Livia from the crude caricature of popular myth to paint an elegant and richly textured portrait. In this rigorously researched biography, Dennison weighs the evidence found in contemporary sources to present a more nuanced assessment. Livia's true "crime," he reveals, was not murder but the exercise of power. The Livia who emerges here is a complex, courageous and gifted woman, and one of the most fascinating and perplexing figures of the ancient world.
The distinguished historian and classicist Michael Grant confirms that her reputation as a temptress was well-founded. However, by unravelling the sources behind the tangle of myth, gossip and invention he shows that the popular image of a wayward woman opting for a life of sensuous luxury and neglecting her affairs of state is far from the truth.
A brilliant linguist and the first of her Greek-speaking dynasty who learned Egyptian, she was reputed to be the author of treatises on agriculture, make-up and alchemy. Her love affairs were carefully calculated to further her plans to restore her empire to its former greatness and she was a ruthless foe to all who stood in her way.
But dead on her golden couch in the palace at Alexandria her life seemed to have ended in failure; her dreams of empire shattered; her lover Mark Antony a suicide himself and she a prisoner of her conqueror Octavian.
An unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary queen and her stormy life.
Elizabeth II, one of England's longest-reigning monarchs, is an enigma. In public, she confines herself to optimistic pieties and guarded smiles; in private, she is wry, funny, and an excellent mimic. Now, for the first time, one of Britain's leading journalists and historians gets behind the mask and tells us the fascinating story of the real Elizabeth.
Born shortly before the Depression, Elizabeth grew up during World War II and became queen because of the shocking abdication of her uncle and the early death of her father. Only twenty-five when she ascended to the throne, she has been at the apex of the British state for nearly six decades. She has entertained and known numerous world leaders, including every U.S. president since Harry Truman. Brought up to regard family values as sacred, she has seen all but one of her children divorce; her heir, Prince Charles, conduct an adulterous affair before Princess Diana's death; and a steady stream of family secrets poured into the open. Yet she has never failed to carry out her duties, and she has never said a word about any of the troubles she has endured.
Andrew Marr, who enjoys extraordinary access to senior figures at Buckingham Palace, has written a revealing and essential book about a woman who has managed to remain private to the point of mystery throughout her reign.
From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.
In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends.
Praise for Elizabeth the Queen
“An excellent, all-embracing new biography.”—The New York Times
“[An] imposing, yet nimbly written, biography [that] dwarfs the field . . . a most satisfying and enjoyable read, one to be savored at length.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Fascinating . . . After sixty years on the throne, the monarch of Britain is better known for her poker face than for sly wit or easy charm. Yet in biographer Sally Bedell Smith’s Elizabeth the Queen, Her Majesty sparkles with both.”—More
“Smith breaks new ground, [with the cooperation of] more than two hundred people, [including] the Queen’s relatives and friends. . . . [A] smart and satisfying book.”—Los Angeles Times
“A fresh and admiring look at Elizabeth II, a woman whose life has been chronicled in numerous books, but perhaps never with such intimacy.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch