Ladies in Waiting
From the Tudors to the Present Day
By Anne Somerset
A history of court life from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II, as seen through the eyes of its ladies-in-waiting.
'Provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II' NEW YORK TIMES
For centuries the most beautiful, able and aristocratic women in England competed for positions at court. Some were drawn by the prospect of political power. Lucy, Countess of Carlisle, for instance, succeeded in acquiring the confidence of Charles I's French wife, Henrietta Maria, only to betray the Queen to her enemies in Parliament. Some ladies-in-waiting became royal mistresses, such as the rapacious Lady Castlemaine who amassed a fortune and flaunted her hold over Charles II. Others came to court to find husbands only to discover that they were denied permission to marry by their sovereign.
Drawing on an enormous variety of sources including the diaries of such shrewd onlookers as Lady Anne Clifford, Lady Cowper and Fanny Burney, Anne Somerset provide a guide to the character, profligate or pious, of each court.
Anne Somerset was born in 1955 and read history at King's College London. In 1980, her first book, The Life and Times of William IV, was published in Weidenfeld & Nicolson's Kings and Queens of England series. This was followed by Ladies-in-Waiting: From the Tudors to the Present Day; a biography of Elizabeth I; Unnatural Murder: Poison at the Court of James I; and The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV.Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion, a biography of England's last Stuart monarch, was awarded the 2013 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography.
Until his death in 2011, Anne Somerset was married to the artist Matthew Carr. She lives in London with her daughter.
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- Publication date:
19 Oct 2017
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Anne Somerset's gossipy Ladies in Waiting provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II — NEW YORK TIMES
Extraordinarily enjoyable ... Colourful and entertaining ... A Naughty Knickers version of our island story — Auberon Waugh, DAILY MAIL
A pleasing account of the upper-class ladies who slaved, suffered and starved in royal service — SUNDAY TIMES
An extremely informative and well-documented study that ... because it is full of odd episodes and graphic portraits, will make admirable bedside reading — SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
Lady Anne writes with perception, wit, candour and a confident authority — Hugh Montgomery Massingberd, THE SPECTATOR
From four centuries of courtly life and love, Anne Somerset has compiled a sparkling history, lucidly written and of impeccable scholarship — COUNTRY LIFE
This is scholarly yet splendid stuff. — THE TIMES