Intensively researched, lovingly compiled, more accessible than ever, whatever your subject of interest - this is where you’ll find it.
At the heart of the new queen's court lay Elizabeth's bedchamber, closely guarded by the favoured women who helped her dress, looked after her jewels and shared her bed. Elizabeth's private life was of public, political concern. Her bedfellows were witnesses to the face and body beneath the make-up and elaborate clothes, as well as to rumoured illicit dalliances with such figures as Robert Dudley. Their presence was for security as well as propriety, as the kingdom was haunted by fears of assassination plots and other Catholic subterfuge. For such was the significance of the queen's body: it represented the very state itself. This riveting, revealing history of the politics of intimacy uncovers the feminized world of the Elizabethan court. Between the scandal and intrigue the women who attended the queen were the guardians of the truth about her health, chastity and fertility. Their stories offer extraordinary insight into the daily life of the Elizabethans, the fragility of royal favour and the price of disloyalty.
Anne Frank's diary is eternally relevant, eternally profound, and an eternal testament both to the cruelty of human beings and our inherent goodness. I believe everyone should read this book. Julie Cohen, from our Best Autobiographies Ever Blog.
June, 1940. German troops enter Paris and hoist the swastika over the Arc de Triomphe. The dark days of Occupation begin. How would you have survived? By collaborating with the Nazis, or risking the lives of you and your loved ones to resist? The women of Paris faced this dilemma every day - whether choosing between rations and the black market, or travelling on the Metro, where a German soldier had priority for a seat. Between the extremes of defiance and collusion was a vast moral grey area which all Parisiennes had to navigate in order to survive.
What does it mean to eat like a queen? Elizabeth gorged on sugar, Mary on chocolate and Anne was known as 'Brandy Nan'. Victoria ate all of this and more. The Greedy Queen celebrates Victoria's appetite, both for food and, indeed, for life. Born in May 1819, Victoria came 'as plump as a partridge'. In her early years she lived on milk and bread under the Kensington system; in her old age she suffered constant indigestion yet continued to over-eat. From intimate breakfasts with the King of France, to romping at tea-parties with her children, and from state balls to her last sip of milk, her life is examined through what she ate, when and with whom. In the royal household, Victoria was surrounded by ladies-in-waiting, secretaries, dressers and coachmen, but below stairs there was another category of servant: her cooks. More fundamental and yet completely hidden, they are now uncovered in their working environment for the first time.
'Anthony Howell’s new prose book, with a title that would have enthralled Rimbaud, incarnates otherness from within an ultra-inventive mind that creates, coolly and passionately at the same time, a coalition of the alienated or, more mildly, differentiated selves which make up this post-modern personality with its urban Jewish and rural Quaker roots. It took an epileptic fit to trigger Howell’s remarkable exploration of psychic chaos which is contained, not so paradoxically, in a super-formalistic structure, a systems network involving repetition as in a baroque poem, that would be a credit to French formalists such as Jacques Roubaud, Raymond Queneau and Alain Robbe-Grillet. Among many themes there is a harsh critique of Israel, but written as much in sorrow as in anger from within the goodly tent. The author intersperses his own text with his fluent version of a novella by Mamdou Adwan, the tragic story of an old Palestinian who has been dispossessed of all he owns. This counterpoint complicates further the music of Howell’s earthly spheres, but such are his skills that we read the book as a straightforward story, a story whose unrevealed codes work on us subliminally so that we are transported, as if listening to Bach.' — Anthony Rudolf
A stimulating, fresh, and thoughtful read that ponders and wanders through some of the big questions in philosophy. When I initially picked this book up, I did wonder whether it was a quirky guide to training your dog, I very quickly realised that it is in fact an interesting introduction to philosophy (for humans). The author Anthony McGowan is an award winning writer for children and young adults, and has lectured widely on creative writing and philosophy (he has a BA, Mphil and PhD in philosophy). He has joined the two together to produce the most fabulous book for anyone who has questions about the way we humans think and act. The author and his dog Monty chat about philosophy on their daily walks. And so we join them as they take a humorous light stroll through some really pretty big subjects, including happiness and ethics. It made me consider and think about some of the things I take for granted, the discussion between the two helps stimulate thoughts. There is one part where I simultaneously wanted to berate and hug the pair, you’ll know what I mean when you get there! At the end there are suggestions for further reading, including on logic, and the meaning of life. If you’re at all curious about philosophy and want a fascinating introduction, then look no further than How To Teach Philosophy to Your Dog as it is a wonderfully inspiring read.
Between 1 July and 18 November 1916 Britain s new volunteer army took the leading role in a battle on the Western Front for the first time. The Somme off ensive was intended to achieve a decisive victory for the British and French Allies over the Germans, yet the Allies failed to achieve all of their objectives and the war was to continue for another two years.
T. E. Lawrence was one of the most charismatic characters of the First World War; a young archaeologist who fought with the Arabs and wrote an epic and very personal account of their revolt against the Turks in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Yet this was not the first book to carry that iconic title. In 1914 the man who would become Lawrence of Arabia burnt the first Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a manuscript in which he described his adventures in the Middle East during the five years before the war. Anthony Sattin uncovers the story Lawrence wanted to conceal: the truth of his birth, his tortuous relationship with a dominant mother, his deep affection for an Arab boy, the intimate details of the extraordinary journeys he took through the region with which his name is forever connected and the personal reasons that drove him from being a student to becoming an archaeologist and a spy. Young Lawrence is the first book to focus on the story of T. E. Lawrence in his twenties, before the war, during the period he looked back on as his golden years. Using first-hand sources, museum records and Foreign Office documents, Sattin sets these adventures against the background of corrosive conflicts in Libya and the Balkans. He shows the simmering defiance of Arabs, Armenians and Kurds under Turkish domination, while uncovering the story of an exceptional young man searching for happiness, love and his place in the world until war changed his life forever.
A Special Edition of The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser to celebrate Orion's 20th anniversary. The six wives of Henry VIII - Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr - have become defined in a popular sense not so much by their lives as by the way these lives ended. But, as Antonia Fraser conclusively proves, they were rich and feisty characters. They may have been victims of Henry's obsession with a male heir, but they were not willing victims. On the contrary, they displayed considerable strength and intelligence at a time when their sex supposedly possessed little of either.
This is the definitive biography of Mary Queen of Scots. 2009 is the 40th anniversary of the publication of this marvellous biography which reads more like a novel than a factual history book. Packed with fascinating detail about one of the most famous women in British history this is a fantastic read and a must for those interested in the Tudor period.
For our inconclusive times, there is an attractive resonance with 1832, with its 'rotten boroughs' of Old Sarum and the disappearing village of Dunwich, and its lines of most resistance to reform. This book is character-driven - on the one hand, the reforming heroes are the Whig aristocrats Lord Grey, Lord Althorp and Lord John Russell, and the Irish orator Daniel O'Connell. They included members of the richest and most landed Cabinet in history, yet they were determined to bring liberty, which whittled away their own power, to the country. The all-too-conservative opposition comprised Lord Londonderry, the Duke of Wellington, the intransigent Duchess of Kent and the consort of the Tory King William IV, Queen Adelaide. Finally, there were 'revolutionaries' and reformers, like William Cobbett, the author of RURAL RIDES. This is a book that features one eventful year, much of it violent. There were riots in Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham, and wider themes of Irish and 'negro emancipation' underscore the narrative. The time-span of the book is from Wellington's intractable declaration in November 1830 that 'The beginning of reform is the beginning of revolution', to 7th June 1832, the date of the extremely reluctant royal assent by William IV to the Great Reform Bill, under the double threat of the creation of 60 new peers in the House of Lords and the threat of revolution throughout the country. These events led to a total change in the way Britain was governed, a two-year revolution that Antonia Fraser brings to vivid dramatic life.
Shortlisted for the Galaxy Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2010. As usual Antony Beevor’s style makes a history book read like an action, blockbuster novel. If your knowledge of the Normandy landings is limited then this is a great book to give you an accessible, overall understanding of events.
History is such a broad and universal subject. After all, we’re all living through it and we all have our own. Here’s where you can get new perspectives on past events, discover a subject you’ve never explored or broaden your existing knowledge.
Our resident expert, Sue Baker, has compiled a wide range of great books covering everything from the major wars, or the creation of nations to the life-journeys of world-changing individuals. From social history (Family Britain by David Kynaston) and the World Wars (Swansong 1945 by Walter Kempowski) to the much loved periods of popular fiction authors (The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones; The Rise of the Tudors: The Family that Changed Britain by Chris Skidmore): From the realities of often romanticised times (The Knight who saved England by Richard Brooks) to the lives of history’s extraordinary people (Cecily Neville: Mother of Kings by Amy Licence). You’ll find a resource here to fascinate on many levels. History without histrionics.