A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs

Grub Street Publishers
Free sample

“A very fair and balanced portrait of one of the Regency era’s most remarkable—and most unknown—women” from the authors of A Right Royal Scandal (Jacqueline Reiter, author of Earl of Shadows).
 
Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs lived an incredible life, one which proved that fact is often much stranger than fiction. As a young woman she endured a tortured existence at the hands of a male tormentor, but emerged from that to reinvent herself as a playwright and author; a political pamphleteer and a spy, working for the British Government; and later single-handedly organizing George III’s jubilee celebrations. Trapped in France during the revolutionary years of 1792–95, she published an anonymous account of her adventures. However, was everything as it seemed?
 
The extraordinary Mrs. Biggs lived life upon her own terms in an age when it was a man’s world, using politicians as her mouthpiece in the Houses of Parliament and corresponding with the greatest men of the day. Throughout it all though, she held on to the ideal of her one youthful true love, a man who abandoned her to her fate and spent his entire adult life in India.
 
In A Georgian Heroine, we delve into Mrs. Biggs’ life to reveal her accomplishments and lay bare her continued reinvention of herself. This is the bizarre but true story of an astounding woman persevering in a man’s world.
 
“Reading the first few pages of this absorbing biography, it is hard to believe that the authors haven’t concocted a wild historical spoof, for this is truly an amazing story.” —Jane Austen’s Regency World
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About the author

SARAH MURDEN and JOANNE MAJOR are joint authors of this compelling biography, brought together through their shared passion for history and genealogy. Whilst carrying out research for a previous book they stumbled across Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs. Looking more closely, they were quickly fascinated by this remarkable woman and realised that her story was one which had to be told. Also by the same authors: An Infamous Mistress: The Love, Life and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages That Changed History www.georgianera.wordpress.com

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Additional Information

Publisher
Grub Street Publishers
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Published on
Nov 30, 2017
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9781473863484
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Women
History / Europe / Great Britain / Georgian Era (1714-1837)
History / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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She ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702, at age thirty-seven, Britain’s last Stuart monarch, and five years later united two of her realms, England and Scotland, as a sovereign state, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. She had a history of personal misfortune, overcoming ill health (she suffered from crippling arthritis; by the time she became Queen she was a virtual invalid) and living through seventeen miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature births in seventeen years. By the end of her comparatively short twelve-year reign, Britain had emerged as a great power; the succession of outstanding victories won by her general, John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, had humbled France and laid the foundations for Britain’s future naval and colonial supremacy.

While the Queen’s military was performing dazzling exploits on the continent, her own attention—indeed her realm—rested on a more intimate conflict: the female friendship on which her happiness had for decades depended and which became for her a source of utter torment.

At the core of Anne Somerset’s riveting new biography, published to great acclaim in England (“Definitive”—London Evening Standard; “Wonderfully pacy and absorbing”—Daily Mail), is a portrait of this deeply emotional, complex bond between two very different women: Queen Anne—reserved, stolid, shrewd; and Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, wife of the Queen’s great general—beautiful, willful, outspoken, whose acerbic wit was equally matched by her fearsome temper.
           
Against a fraught background—the revolution that deposed Anne’s father, James II, and brought her to power . . . religious differences (she was born Protestant—her parents’ conversion to Catholicism had grave implications—and she grew up so suspicious of the Roman church that she considered its doctrines “wicked and dangerous”) . . . violently partisan politics (Whigs versus Tories) . . . a war with France that lasted for almost her entire reign . . . the constant threat of foreign invasion and civil war—the  much-admired historian, author of Elizabeth I (“Exhilarating”—The Spectator; “Ample, stylish, eloquent”—The Washington Post Book World), tells the extraordinary story of how Sarah goaded and provoked the Queen beyond endurance, and, after the withdrawal of Anne’s favor, how her replacement, Sarah’s cousin, the feline Abigail Masham, became the ubiquitous royal confidante and, so Sarah whispered to growing scandal, the object of the Queen's sexual infatuation.

To write this remarkably rich and passionate biography, Somerset, winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, has made use of royal archives, parliamentary records, personal correspondence and previously unpublished material.

Queen Anne is history on a large scale—a revelation of a centuries-overlooked monarch.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

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 authors of An Infamous Mistress: “The tale of two juicy 19th-century scandals, both concerning the aristocratic Cavendish-Bentinck family” (Cheshire Life).
 
Almost two books in one, A Right Royal Scandal recounts the fascinating history of the irregular love matches contracted by two successive generations of the Cavendish-Bentinck family, ancestors of the British royal family. The first part of this intriguing book looks at the scandal that erupted in Regency London, just months after the Battle of Waterloo, when the widowed Lord Charles Bentinck eloped with the Duke of Wellington’s married niece. Over two decades later and while at Oxford University, Lord Charles’ eldest son fell in love with a beautiful Romany girl, and secretly married her. When his alliance was discovered, he was cast adrift by his family—with devastating consequences.
 
A love story as well as a brilliantly researched historical biography, this is a continuation of Joanne Major and Sarah Murden’s first biography, An Infamous Mistress, about the eighteenth-century courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott, whose daughter was the first wife of Lord Charles Bentinck. The book ends by showing how, if not for a young gypsy and her tragic life, the British monarchy would look very different today.
 
“An easy read of a subject that keeps you engrossed from start to finish. This book is brilliant for those who enjoy the scandals of historical television, with the added authenticity of historical fact.” —History of Royals
 
“The plots may seem to come straight out of the world of Regency Romance but they are all true, and carefully annotated and verified by Major and Murden.” —Naomi Clifford, author of The Murder of Mary Ashford
A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller!
Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf Bookclub Selection - May/June 2018

"the glowing ghosts of the radium girls haunt us still."—NPR Books

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger

The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

“Courtesan. Spy. Survivor. A gripping and meticulously researched account of the swashbuckling life of one of history’s most overlooked heroines.” —Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Five
 
Divorced wife, infamous mistress, prisoner in France during the French Revolution, and the reputed mother of the Prince of Wales’ child, notorious courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott lived an amazing life in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century London and Paris.
 
Strikingly tall and beautiful, later lampooned as “Dally the Tall” in newspaper gossip columns, she left her Scottish roots and convent education behind to reinvent herself in a “marriage à-la-mode,” but before she was even legally an adult she was cast off and forced to survive on just her beauty and wits.
 
The authors of this engaging and, at times, scandalous book intersperse the story of Grace’s tumultuous life with a family history that traces her ancestors from their origin in the Scottish borders, to their move south to London. It follows them to France, America, India, Africa, and elsewhere, offering a broad insight into the social history of the Georgian era, comprising the ups and downs, the highs and lows of life at that time.
 
“A fascinating read . . . a shining example of research done well, presented coherently on the perfect subject: a powerful courtesan that time forgot.” —History of Royals
 
“Set for the first time in the context of Grace’s wider family, this is a compelling tale of scandal and intrigue.” —Scots Heritage Magazine
 A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Excellent…This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.” -- The New York Times Book Review

"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR

The never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine

In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her."

The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill's "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and--despite her prosthetic leg--helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.

Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.

Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall--an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war.
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