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After leaving Oxford, Sarah Gristwood worked as a journalist specializing in the arts and womenâ€™s issues. She is a regular contributor to The Times, Guardian, Independent and the Evening Standard. Arbella, her historical biography of Arbella Stuart, was widely acclaimed in hardcover, and is available as a Bantam paperback.
Her forthcoming anthology of womenâ€™s diaries through the ages will also be published in paperback by Bantam Books in 2006.
Winston Churchill is one of the best-known and most revered figures of our time, the man who led Britain through its 'darkest hour'. The last year alone has seen two feature films of his life. Many books have been published about his life and work, but very few have looked at his life through the prism of the house he occupied for over 40 years. Chartwell is as fundamental to understanding Churchill as Hill Top is to Beatrix Potter. This Elizabethan manor - cared for by the National Trust today - was his inspiration, his refuge and his obsession. He had to rebuild the property almost from scratch after he bought it in 1922, spending money he could ill afford. Later he built a wall around the garden and several buildings by hand. 'A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted,' he once said. The book's introduction features a special section telling Churchill's life through ten special and unusual objects at Chartwell. Featuring many rarely seen photographs, one previously unpublished, this beautifully illustrated book has an incisive text by Sarah Gristwood and Margaret Gaskin. They trace every phase of his life - rebellious child, brave adventurer, political outcast, inspirational leader - always circling back to Chartwell, just as the great man himself did.
A double biography of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, their friendship and love affair. Virginia Woolf is one of the world's most famous writers - a leading light of literary modernism and feminism - and a British icon. During the 1920s she had a passionate affair with a fellow author, Vita Sackville-West, and they remained friends until Virginia's death in 1941. The hero of Virginia's novel Orlando was modeled on Vita and the book has been described as `one of the longest and most charming love letters in history'. That's on top of the more than 500 letters they wrote to each other. Vita & Virginia is the extraordinary account of the work, friendship and love affair of two prolific novelists, who came to redefine conventions of femininity, sexuality, art and politics for the modern world. The cultural legacies of these formidable women, enduring icons of sexual equality and female emancipation, proliferate around us today - in fashion and television, film and literature. In this scrupulously researched examination of the pair's long friendship, the National Trust draws on their poetry and treasured correspondence to tell the story of this thoroughly modern affair. Both novelists have become closely associated with the National Trust. Vita is most famous today as the co-creator of Sissinghurst, one of the most influential and visited gardens in the world, while Monk's House, Virginia's retreat and inspiration, was a celebrated haunt of the Bloomsbury Group, that influential set of artists, thinkers and writers who lived in squares and loved in triangles.
A BBC History magazine Book of the Year and an amazon.com Best Book of the Month As religion divided sixteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary group of women rose to power. They governed nations while kings fought in foreign lands. They ruled on behalf of nephews, brothers and sons. They negotiated peace between their warring nations. For decades, they ran Europe. Small wonder that it was in this century that the queen became the most powerful piece on the chessboard. From mother to daughter and mentor to protegee, Sarah Gristwood follows the passage of power from Isabella of Castile and Anne de Beaujeu through Anne Boleyn - the woman who tipped England into religious reform - and on to Elizabeth I and Jeanne d'Albret, heroine of the Protestant Reformation. Unravelling a gripping historical narrative, Gristwood reveals the stories of the queens who had, until now, been overshadowed by kings.
Few relationships fire our imagination like that of Elizabeth I and her 'bonnie sweet Robin' - the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley. Almost immediately after she became queen, Elizabeth's infatuation with the married Earl became the subject of letters from scandalized ambassadors. And when Dudley's wife, Amy, died a mere two years later under suspicious circumstances many speculated that Elizabeth and Robert would marry. They never did, although by the time Robert died he had been Elizabeth's councillor and commander of her army, had sat by her bed in sickness and represented her on state occasions. But she had also humiliated him, made him dance attendance on her other suitors, and tried to have him clapped in prison when he finally broke loose and married again. Elizabeth and Leicester is a portrait - at times a startlingly intimate one - of the tie between two of the people who forced their age; of a relationship where, unusually, a woman held all the power; of an edgy yet enduring love that still speaks to us today.
In sixteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary set of women created a unique culture of feminine power that saw them run the continent for decades. Despite often being on opposing sides of power struggles both armed and otherwise, through family ties and patronage they educated and supported each other in a brutal world where the price of failure was disgrace, exile or even death.Following the passage of power from mother to daughter and mentor to protg, Gristwood reveals the unorthodox practices these women adopted to avoid patriarchal control and assesses the impact they had on shaping the world around them. Epic in scale, this game of queens is a remarkable spectacle of skill and ingenuity, confronting the challenges faced by women in power many of which still hold relevant today.The players in this Game of Queens are: Isabella of Castile, Margaret of Austria, Louise of Savoy, Anne de Beaujeu, Katherine of Aragon, Marguerite of Navarre, Anne Boleyn, Catherine de Medici, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth Tudor, Jeanne d'Albret and Mary Stuart.
Sumptuous...a fitting legacy for a pioneering conservationist who helped save thousands of acres of the Lake District - The Mail on Sunday, August 2016 To this day, Beatrix Potter's tales delight children and grown-ups around the world. But few people realise how extraordinary her own story is. She was a woman of contradictions. A sheltered Victorian daughter who grew into an astute modern businesswoman. A talented artist who became a scientific expert. A famous author who gave it all up to become a farmer. In The Story of Beatrix Potter, Sarah Gristwood follows the twists and turns of Beatrix Potter's life and its key turning points - including her tragically brief first engagement and happy second marriage late in life. She traces the creation of Beatrix's most famous characters - including the naughty Peter Rabbit, confused Jemima Puddleduck and cheeky Squirrel Nutkin - revealing how she drew on her unusual childhood pets and locations in her beloved Lake District. She explores too, the last 30 years of Potter's life, when she abandoned books to become a working farmer and a pioneering conservationist, whose work with the National Trust helped to save thousands of acres of the Lake District - a legacy that, like her books, continues to enrich our lives today. Main text: 30,000 words. Approx 3,000 words for captions and index.
The true story of the White Queen and more, this is a thrilling history of the extraordinary noblewomen who lived through the Wars of the Roses. The events of the Wars of the Roses are usually described in terms of the men involved: Richard Duke of York, Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII. But these years were also packed with women's drama and - in the tales of conflicted maternity and monstrous births - alive with female energy. In this completely original book, Sarah Gristwood sheds light on a neglected dimension of English history: the impact of Tudor women on the Wars of the Roses. She examines, among others, Cecily Neville, who was deprived of being queen when her husband died at the Battle of Wakefield; Elizabeth Woodville, the commoner who married Edward IV in secret; Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, whose love and ambition for her son knew no bounds. Until now, the lives of these women have remained little known to the general public. Sarah Gristwood tells their stories in detail for the first time. Captivating and original, this is historical writing of the most important kind.
No item of clothing has endured for longer than the dress. Yet the last century alone has seen the most radical changes of style - hemlines swinging from ankle to thigh; outlines alternating between the body-hugging and the bell - and our fascination with the 'frock' has not gone away. From Gres' draping to Dior's New Look, from Mary Quant's mini to Hussein Chalayan's mechanical marvels, this book looks at the dress in twentieth century fashion. Thematic chapters - Changes, Feminine, Seduction, Must-haves, Fantasy, Classical and Art - set out the inspirations and implications for each new change alongside the stunning photography. It is more than eighty years since Coco Chanel invented the little black dress, but every woman still has one in her wardrobe today. It's decades since women discovered trousers and separates, but every woman dreams of wearing a glorious, glamorous gown at least once, whether it's on a Hollywood red carpet, or just on her wedding day. Fabulous Frocks is a book to fire a fashionista's imagination.
Few women's lives have described such an arc as that of Mary Robinson. She began her career as an actress, became a royal mistress and possible blackmailer, and ended it just two decades later as a Romantic poet and early feminist thinker of note. She was painted by Gainsborough and Reynolds, and satirized by political cartoonists. Born in Bristol in 1758, she married at 15. But Mary had barely made her curtsey to society before discovering that Robinson was little better than a conman. She went with him to debtors' prison, where she wrote her first book of verse. Encouraged by Sheridan and Garrick, who admired her beauty, she went on the stage, where she was seen by the 17-year-old Prince of Wales, and they embarked on a widely satirized liaison. Mary had made her mark in fashionable Georgian society and this, over the next two momentous decades, was where she contrived to stay. This vivid and accessible biography explores Georgian England during a period of extreme political, social and cultural upheaval through the life of this remarkable woman.
'It is Arbella they would proclaim Queen if her mistress should happen to die' Sir William Stanley, 1592 Niece to Mary, Queen of Scots, granddaughter to the great Tudor dynast Bess of Hardwick, Lady Arbella Stuart was brought up in the belief that she would inherit Elizabeth I's throne. Her very conception was dramatic: the result of an unsanctioned alliance that brought down the wrath of the authorities. Raised in restricted isolation at Hardwick, in the care - the 'custody' - of the forceful Bess, Arbella was twenty-seven before, in 1603, she made her own flamboyant bid for liberty. She may also have been making a bid for the throne. If so, she failed. But the accession of her cousin James thrust her into the colourful world of his court, and briefly gave her the independence she craved at the heart of Jacobean society. Then, aged thirty-five, Arbella risked everything to make her own forbidden marriage. An escape in disguise, a wild flight abroad and capture at sea led, in the end, to an agonizing death in the Tower in 1615. Along with the rumours about her sanity, her story influenced even Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. Yet perhaps nothing in her tale is as striking as the degree to which a woman so widely discussed in her own day has been written out of history. Nothing as remarkable as the almost modern freedom with which, in a series of extraordinary letters, Arbella Stuart revealed her own passionate and curiously accessible personality. Drawing on a wide variety of contemporary sources, Sarah Gristwood has painted a powerful and vivid portrait of a woman forced to carve a precarious path through the turbulent years when the Tudor gave way to the Stuart dynasty. But more remarkable still, the turmoils of Arbella's life never prevented her from claiming the right to love freely, to speak her wrongs loudly - and to control her own destiny.