By Lisa Hilton
A definitive portrait of one of the most compelling monarchs England has ever had: Elizabeth I.'We are a prince from a line of princes.'Lisa Hilton's majestic biography of Elizabeth I, 'The Virgin Queen', uses new research to present a fresh interpretation of Elizabeth as a queen who saw herself primarily as a Renaissance prince, delivering a very different perspective on her emotional and sexual life, and upon her attempts to mould England into a European state. Elizabeth was not an exceptional woman but an exceptional ruler, and this book challenges readers to reassess her reign, and the colourful drama, scandal and intrigue to which it is always linked.
By Kate Williams
The story of how Elizabeth II became queen.We can hardly imagine a Britain without Elizabeth II on the throne. It seems to be the job she was born for. And yet for much of her early life the young princess did not know the role that her future would hold. She was our accidental Queen.As a young girl, Elizabeth was among the guests in Westminster Abbey watching her father being crowned, making her the only monarch to have attended a parent's coronation. Kate Williams explores the sheltered upbringing of the young princess with a gentle father and domineering mother, her complicated relationship with her sister, Princess Margaret, and her dependence on her nanny, Marion 'Crawfie' Crawford. She details the profound and devastating impact of the abdication crisis when, at the impressionable age of 11, Elizabeth found her position changed overnight: no longer a minor princess she was now heiress to the throne.Elizabeth's determination to share in the struggles of her people marked her out from a young age. Her father initially refused to let her volunteer as a nurse during the Blitz, but relented when she was 18 and allowed her to work as a mechanic and truck driver for the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. It was her forward-thinking approach that ensured that her coronation was televised, against the advice of politicians at the time.Kate Williams reveals how the 25-year-old young queen carved out a lasting role for herself amid the changes of the 20th century. Her monarchy would be a very different one to that of her parents and grandparents, and its continuing popularity in the 21st century owes much to the intelligence and elusive personality of this remarkable woman.
By Anne Sebba
Bestselling biography of the enduringly fascinating Wallis SimpsonOne of Britain's most distinguished biographers turns her focus on one of the most vilified women of the twentieth century. Historian Anne Sebba has written the first full biography by a woman of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. 'That woman', as she was referred to by the Queen Mother, became a hate figure for ensnaring a British king and destabilising the monarchy. Neither beautiful nor brilliant, she nevertheless became one of the most talked-about women of her generation, and she inspired such deep love and adoration in Edward VIII that he gave up a throne and an empire for her. Wallis lived by her wit and her wits, while both her apparent and alleged moral transgressions added to her aura and dazzle. Based on new archives and material only recently made available, this scrupulously researched biography sheds new light on the character and motivations of a powerful, charismatic and complex woman.
By Robert Hutchinson
Compelling account of the first 35 years of a magnificent and ruthless monarch.Henry became the unexpected heir to the precarious Tudor throne in 1502, after his elder brother Arthur died. He also inherited both his brother's wardrobe and his wife, the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. He became king in April 1509 with many personality traits inherited from his father - the love of magnificence, the rituals of kingship, the excitement of hunting and gambling and the construction of grand new palaces. After those early glory days of feasting, fun and frolic, the continuing lack of a male Tudor heir runs like a thin line of poison through Henry's reign. After he fell in love with Anne Boleyn, he gambled everything on her providing him with a son and heir. From that day forward everything changed.Based on contemporary accounts, Young Henry provides a compelling vision of the splendours, intrigues and tragedies of the royal court, presided over by the ruthless and insecure Henry VIII. With his customary scholarship and narrative verve, Robert Hutchinson provides fresh insights into what drove England's most famous monarch, and how this happy, playful Renaissance prince was transformed into the tyrant of his later years.
By Anne de Courcy
The first proper biography of the man who married, and divorced, Princess MargaretAnthony Armstrong-Jones was born to a Welsh father and English-Jewish mother. Creative and inventive, he attended Eton and then Cambridge. The engagement of this motorbike-riding freelance photographer in 1960 to Princess Margaret was a bombshell.Friends privately predicted disaster. And so it proved. But meanwhile in the 1960s, mixing with actors, artists and pop stars, they were the epitome of stylish and unstuffy arts-loving Royals - and one of the iconic glamorous couples of that era.Tony continued to work and both began to have affairs. They divorced in 1978. Snowdon married again but this marriage collapsed after the birth of a secret love-child and the suicide of his mistress of twenty years.His low boredom threshold and waspish cruelty are balanced by his fabled charm and genuine concern for the disabled and underprivileged. One of the great British photographers, at 76 he now suffers from a recurrence of childhood polio. But by any standards he has had an extraordinary life.
Mary Queen Of Scots
By Antonia Fraser
Antonia Fraser's bestselling biography of one of the most romantic and controversial figures in British history - a special 40th anniversary edition.Mary Queen of Scots passed her childhood in France and married the Dauphin to become Queen of France at the age of sixteen. Widowed less than two years later, she returned to Scotland as Queen after an absence of thirteen years.Her life then entered its best known phase: the early struggles with John Knox, and the unruly Scottish nobility; the fatal marriage to Darnley and his mysterious death; her marriage to Bothwell, the chief suspect, that led directly to her long English captivity at the hands of Queen Elizabeth; the poignant and extraordinary story of her long imprisonment that ended with the labyrinthine Babington plot to free her, and her execution at the age of forty-four.
By Tim Heald
Elegant and sophisticated biography of Princess Margaret, the controversial sister of Queen Elizabeth II, the Princess Diana of her dayThe almost universal conception is that the life of Princess Margaret (1930-2002) was a tragic failure, a history of unfulfilment.Tim Heald's vivid and elegant biography portrays a woman who was beautiful and sexually alluring - even more so than Princess Diana, years later - and whose reputation for naughtiness co-existed with the glamour. The mythology is that Margaret's life was 'ruined' by her not being allowed to marry the one true love of her life - Group Captain Peter Townsend - and that therefore her marriage to Lord Snowdon and her well-attested relationships with Roddy Llewellyn and others were mere consolation prizes. Margaret's often exotic personal life in places like Mustique is a key part of her story. The author has had extraordinary help from those closest to Princess Margaret, including her family (Lord Snowdon and her son, Lord Linley), as well as three of her private secretaries and many of her ladies in waiting. These individuals have not talked to any previous biographer. He has also had the Queen's permission to use the royal archives.Heald asks why one of the most famous and loved little girls in the world, who became a juvenile wartime sweetheart, ended her life a sad wheelchair-bound figure, publicly reviled and ignored. This is a story of a life in which the private and the public seemed permanently in conflict. The biography is packed with good stories. Princess Margaret was never ignored; what she said and did has been remembered and recounted to Tim Heald.
The Last Princess
By Matthew Dennison
Queen Victoria's favourite child - the true story of a royal mother-daughter relationship that changed historyBeatrice was the last child born to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her father died when she was four and as Matthew Dennison relates Victoria came to depend on her youngest daughter absolutely, but she also demanded from her complete submission.It is an enthralling story, not just of a mother/daughter relationship, but of a Queen and subject relationship. Beatrice succumbed to her mother's obsessive love, so that by the time she was in her late teens she was her constant companion and running her mother's office, which meant that when Victoria died her daughter became literary executor, a role she conducted with teutonic thoroughness. She edited and bowdlerised her mother's Journals that cover 70 years and where possible her voluminous correspondence.Although Victoria tried to prevent Beatrice even so much as thinking of love, her guard slipped when Beatrice was 29. She met Liko, Prince Henry of Battenberg, and fell in love. Beatrice, however, did not end up simply as a wife and mother. She loved music and composed a military march which remains in the repertoire of British regimental bands, she sang and she painted. Matthew Dennison draws on extensive new material to restore Princess Beatrice to her rightful place as a key figure in the Victorian dynasty.
By Antonia Fraser
'Drama, betrayal, religion and sex, it's all here ... Fascinating' GUARDIAN'Beautifully paced, impeccably written ... Don't miss it' INDEPENDENT'Fraser is at her best here, lucid, authoritative and compassionate' SUNDAY TIMES 'Superbly researched ... the definitive work on the ill-fated queen' CATHOLIC HERALDMarie Antoinette's dramatic life-story continues to arouse mixed emotions. To many people, she is still 'la reine méchante', whose extravagance and frivolity helped to bring down the French monarchy; her indifference to popular suffering epitomised by the (apocryphal) words: 'let them eat cake'. Others are equally passionate in her defence: to them, she is a victim of misogyny.Antonia Fraser examines her influence over the king, Louis XVI, the accusations and sexual slurs made against her, her patronage of the arts which enhanced French cultural life, her imprisonment, the death threats made against her, rumours of lesbian affairs, her trial (during which her young son was forced to testify to sexual abuse by his mother) and her eventual execution by guillotine in 1793.
The Kings & Queens of England
By Nicholas Best
A beautifully illustrated companion to the Royal family throughout historySpanning ten dynasties of England's monarchs, The Kings and Queens of England presents portraits and potted biographies of England's monarchs. Spanning from the Normans through to the House of Windsor, this exquisite little book captures the personalities behind the crowns and records the landmarks, traditions and events of each reign.