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Kate Summerscale was born in 1965. She is the author of the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, which won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. She has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London with her son.
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House, published by Bloomsbury in April 2008, has been awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2008.
A truly fascinating investigative piece focusing on journalist and ghost hunter Nandor Fodor who researched Alma Fielding in 1938 after a poltergeist attack. Described as historical narrative non fiction, Kate Summerscale opens a door into the world of spiritualism just as the Second World War was starting. Her prologue explains that she visited the Society for Psychical Research to look up Nandor Fodor and found his original papers including the dossier on Alma. It contained transcripts of her seances, interviews, lab reports, x-rays copies of her contracts, notes, sketches and photographs. The author sets out to explore the link between suffering and the supernatural. This is as much about Fodor as it is Fielding, their link at times almost disturbing. The story is laid out before you, Kate Summerscale thoughtfully relays the information without prejudice, and doesn’t judge, allowing the reader to form their own thoughts. The Haunting of Alma Fielding is a riveting read encouraging thorough yet reflective reasoning that is likely to continue long after the tale is told.
This reads like a first rate crime novel but is in fact an analysis of real life events. It's so good it won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2008. Said to have inspired Dickens, Willkie Collins and many, many more this is a case that will keep you gripped until the final page. Winner of the Galaxy Book of the Year and Popular Non-Fiction awards 2009 and Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008. The Bloomsbury Modern Classic Series Restless by William Boyd Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
The Wicked Boy is a grim, dark and insightful examination of a controversial Victorian murder. In 1895, thirteen-year-old Robert Coombes was accused of killing his mother in cold blood, fuelling media frenzy and a highly publicised trial. There was much speculation at the time over what led to Emily Coombes’ murder, with no definitive conclusions. The first half of The Wicked Boy focuses on the trial itself, providing a well-researched insight into early psychiatry, law courts and forensic methods, at a time of social and political unrest. The book highlights neglect and the class divide and whether cheap adventure stories could be fuelling children’s delinquent behaviour – not so different to the computer games discussions of the modern age. The second half of the book focuses on the ‘after’ – what happened to Robert Coombes and his family once the trial was over. I found this particularly fascinating, and even uplifting and fulfilling, as Kate Summerscale turned a story of a shocking crime into one of redemption, resilience and rehabilitation. I won’t forget the story of the Coombes family very easily, thanks to her compelling storytelling, as The Wicked Boy provides proof that murder and murderers aren’t always what they seem.
Winner of the Galaxy Book of the Year and Popular Non-Fiction awards 2009. Reviewed on Richard & Judy's Book Club 2009 on Wednesday 28 January. Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 4 December 2008. Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008. This reads like a first rate crime novel but is in fact an analysis of real life events. It's so good it won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2008. Said to have inspired Dickens, Willkie Collins and many, many more this is a case that will keep you gripped until the final page.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 'A page-turner with the authority of history' PHILIPPA GREGORY 'As gripping as a novel. An engaging, unsettling, deeply satisfying read' SARAH WATERS 'A wonderful book about the world of mediums' HILARY MANTEL, Open Book, BBC Radio 4 London, 1938. Alma Fielding, an ordinary young woman, begins to experience supernatural events in her suburban home. Nandor Fodor - a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical research - begins to investigate. In doing so he discovers a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss - and the foreshadowing of a nation's worst fears. As the spectre of Fascism lengthens over Europe, and as Fodor's obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed. With rigour, daring and insight, the award-winning pioneer of historical narrative non-fiction Kate Summerscale shadows Fodor's enquiry, delving into long-hidden archives to find the human story behind a very modern haunting. 'An empathetic, meticulous account of a spiritual unravelling; a tribute to the astonishing power of the human mind - but also a properly absorbing, baffling, satisfying detective story' AIDA EDEMARIAM A PICK OF THE AUTUMN IN THE TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER AND THE GUARDIAN
WINNER OF THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER A RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK 'A classic' John le Carre 'Nothing less than a masterpiece' Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday 'Absolutely riveting' Sarah Waters, Guardian 'Terrific' Ian Rankin 'A triumph' Observer On a summer's morning in 1860, the Kent family awakes in their elegant Wiltshire home to a terrible discovery; their youngest son has been brutally murdered. When celebrated detective Jack Whicher is summoned from Scotland Yard he faces the unenviable task of identifying the killer - when the grieving family are the suspects. The original Victorian whodunnit, the murder and its investigation provoked national hysteria at the thought of what might be festering behind the locked doors of respectable homes - scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing.
In einer Sommernacht im Jahr 1860 geschieht ein Mord in einem herrschaftlichen Landhaus in Wiltshire. Die Leiche des dreijahrigen Saville wird mit durchgeschnittener Kehle aufgefunden. Alle Hausbewohner stehen unter Schock, erst recht, als sich herausstellt, dass es einer von ihnen gewesen sein muss. Jack Whicher von Scotland Yard soll diesen Mordfall aufklaren, doch was er herausfindet, versetzt die ganze Nation in Hysterie. Eine wahre Geschichte, die Generationen von Autoren wie Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens und Arthur Conan Doyle inspirierte.
When the married Isabella Robinson was introduced to the dashing Edward Lane at a party in 1850, she was utterly enchanted. He was 'fascinating', she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man's charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, and she was to find it hard to shake... In one of the most notorious divorce cases of the nineteenth century, Isabella Robinson's scandalous secrets were exposed to the world. Kate Summerscale brings vividly to life a frustrated Victorian wife's longing for passion and learning, companionship and love, in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality.
Enhanced Edition of the bestselling Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, including author videos and podcastsOn a mild winter's evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her carriage bumped across the wide cobbled streets of Edinburgh's Georgian New Town and drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone house lit by gas lamps. This was the home of the rich widow Lady Drysdale, a vivacious hostess whose soirees were the centre of an energetic intellectual scene.Lady Drysdale's guests were gathered in the high, airy drawing rooms on the first floor, the ladies in dresses of glinting silk and satin, bodices pulled tight over boned corsets; the gentlemen in tailcoats, waistcoats, neckties and pleated shirt fronts, dark narrow trousers and shining shoes. When Mrs Robinson joined the throng she was introduced to Lady Drysdale's daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Edward Lane. She was at once enchanted by the handsome Mr Lane, a medical student ten years her junior. He was 'fascinating', she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man's charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake...A compelling story of romance and fidelity, insanity, fantasy, and the boundaries of privacy in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality, Mrs Robinson's Disgrace brings vividly to life a complex, frustrated Victorian wife, longing for passion and learning, companionship and love.
Born in 1900 to a promiscuous American oil heiress and a British army captain, Marion Barbara Carstairs realised very early on that she was not like most little girls. Liberated by war work in WWI, Marion reinvented herself as Joe, and quickly went on to establish herself as a leading light of the fashionable lesbian demi-monde. She dressed in men's clothes, smoked cigars and cheroots, tattooed her arms, and became Britain's most celebrated female speed-boat racer - the 'fastest woman on water'. Yet Joe tired of the lime-light in 1934, and retired to the Bahamian Island of Whale Cay. There she fashioned her own self-sufficient kingdom, where she hosted riotous parties which boasted Hollywood actresses and British royalty among their guests. Although her lovers included screen sirens such as Marlene Dietrich, the real love of Joe's life was a small boy-doll named Lord Tod Wadley, to whom she remained devoted throughout her remarkable life. She died, aged 93, in 1993.
It is a summer's night in 1860. In an elegant detached Georgian house in the village of Road, Wiltshire, all is quiet. Behind shuttered windows the Kent family lies sound asleep. At some point after midnight a dog barks. The family wakes the next morning to a horrific discovery: an unimaginably gruesome murder has taken place in their home. The household reverberates with shock, not least because the guilty party is surely still among them. Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard, the most celebrated detective of his day, reaches Road Hill House a fortnight later. He faces an unenviable task: to solve a case in which the grieving family are the suspects. The murder provokes national hysteria. The thought of what might be festering behind the closed doors of respectable middle-class homes - scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing - arouses fear and a kind of excitement. But when Whicher reaches his shocking conclusion there is uproar and bewilderment. A true story that inspired a generation of writers such as Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle, this has all the hallmarks of the classic murder mystery - a body; a detective; a country house steeped in secrets. In The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Kate Summerscale untangles the facts behind this notorious case, bringing it back to vivid, extraordinary life.