The Great Train Robbery
By Nick Russell-Pavier, Stewart Richards
Definitive account of the famous 1963 Great Train Robbery - and its aftermath. In the early hours of Thursday 8th August 1963 at rural Cheddington in Buckinghamshire, £2.6 million (£50 million today) in unmarked £5, £1 and 10-shilling notes was stolen from the Glasgow to London nightmail train in a daring and brilliantly executed operation lasting just 46 minutes. Quickly dubbed the crime of the century, it has captured the imagination of the public and the world's media for 50 years, taking its place in British folklore and giving birth to the myths of The Great Train Robbery. Ronnie Biggs, Buster Edwards and Bruce Reynolds became household names.But what really happened? This is the story of four talented villains who took the criminal world by storm, of the 'perfect crime'. It is also the story of ruthless policemen, determined to hunt the robbers down and to make sure nobody slipped through the net, not even the innocent. It is the story of an Establishment under siege, and of one mistake which cost the robbers 307 years in prison.Fifty years later, here is the story set out in full for the first time, a true-life crime thriller, and also a vivid slice of British social history.
By Antonia Fraser
Internationally bestselling historian Antonia Fraser's new book brilliantly evokes a key period of pre-Victorian political and social history - the passing of the Great Reform Bill of 1832.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.
Gentlemen & Players
By Charles Williams
Amateurs versus professionals - a social history and memoir of English cricket from 1953 to 1963.The inaugural Gentlemen v. Players first-class cricket match was played in 1806, subsequently becoming an annual fixture at Lord's between teams consisting of amateurs (the Gentlemen) and professionals (the Players). The key difference between the amateur and the professional, however, was much more than the obvious one of remuneration. The division was shaped by English class structure, the amateur, who received expenses, being perceived as occupying a higher station in life than the wage-earning professional. The great Yorkshire player Len Hutton, for example, was told he would have to go amateur if he wanted to captain England.GENTLEMEN & PLAYERS focuses on the final ten years of amateurism and the Gentlemen v. Players fixture, starting with Charles Williams' own presence in the (amateur) Oxbridge teams that included future England captains such as Peter May, Colin Cowdrey and M.J.K. Smith, and concluding with the abolition of amateurism in 1962 when all first-class players became professional. The amateur innings was duly declared closed.Charles Williams, the author of a richly acclaimed biography of Donald Bradman, has penned a vivid social-history-cum-memoir that reveals an attempt to recreate a Golden Age in post-war Britain, one whose expiry exactly coincided with the beginnings of top-class one-day cricket and a cricket revolution.
By George Goodwin
A gripping account of the Wars of the Roses battle of Towton - the most brutal day in English history.'Vivid, humane and superbly researched' David Starkey'The story has never been told so well or so excitingly' Desmond SewardThe Battle of Towton in 1461 was unique in its ferocity and brutality, as the armies of two kings of England engaged with murderous weaponry and in appalling conditions to conclude the first War of the Roses. Variously described as the largest, longest and bloodiest battle on English soil, Towton was fought with little chance of escape and none of surrender. Fatal Colours includes a cast of strong and compelling characters: a warrior queen, a ruthless king-making earl, even a papal legate who excommunicates an entire army.Combining medieval sources and modern scholarship, George Goodwin colourfully recreates the atmosphere of 15th century England and chronicles the vicious in-fighting as the increasingly embittered royal factions struggle for supremacy.
The English Civil Wars
By Blair Worden
A brilliant appraisal of the Civil War and its long-term consequences, by an acclaimed historian.The political upheaval of the mid-seventeenth century has no parallel in English history. Other events have changed the occupancy and the powers of the throne, but the conflict of 1640-60 was more dramatic: the monarchy and the House of Lords were abolished, to be replaced by a republic and military rule.In this wonderfully readable account, Blair Worden explores the events of this period and their origins - the war between King and Parliament, the execution of Charles I, Cromwell's rule and the Restoration - while aiming to reveal something more elusive: the motivations of contemporaries on both sides and the concerns of later generations.
The Buccaneers of the Caribbean
By Jon Latimer
The True Story of Piracy on the Spanish Main.This is the incredible true story of piracy in the Caribbean, proof positive that fact is stranger than fiction. From the moment the English established their first tiny colonies in the New World, semi-legal pirates took on the might of the Spanish Empire. The lure of Spanish gold was so strong that French and Dutch privateers soon joined them. Sometimes licensed by governments, but often not, desperate gangs of cut-throats dominated the Caribbean throughout the seventeenth century. Led by ruthless captains, they wrested many of the key islands from Spanish control, then fought each other for the region's strategic bases. Most notoriously, the 'brethren of the coast' established the pirate port of Tortuga, the infamous city of crime. From Piet Heyn's capture of the entire Spanish treasure fleet in 1628, to Henry Morgan's sack of Panama, this was the Age of the Bucaneers. This epic story continued up to the destruction of the pirates' lair of Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692 -- recognised at the time as the judgement of God. . .International treaties at the end of the century brought this dramatic era to a close, by which time the division of the Caribbean among European powers was complete. And a legend had been born.
By Leo Hollis
*Perfect for fans of ITV's epic drama series, THE GREAT FIRE*Opening in the 1640s, as the city was gripped in tumult leading up to the English Civil War, THE PHOENIX charts the lives and works of five extraordinary men, who would grow up in the chaos of a world turned upside down: the architect, Sir Christopher Wren; gardener and virtuosi, John Evelyn; the scientist, Robert Hooke; the radical philosopher, John Locke and the builder, Nicholas Barbon.At the heart of the story is the rebuilding of London's iconic cathedral, St Paul's. Interweaving science, architecture, history and philosophy, THE PHOENIX tells the story of the formation of the first modern city.
The Last Days of Henry VIII
By Robert Hutchinson
After 35 years in power, Henry VIII was a bloated, hideously obese, black-humoured old man, rarely seen in public. He had striven all his life to ensure the survival of his dynasty by siring legitimate sons, yet his only male heir was eight-year-old Prince Edward. It was increasingly obvious that when Henry died, real power in England would be exercised by a regent. The prospect of that prize spurred the rival court factions into deadly conflict.Robert Hutchinson spent several years in original archival research. He advances a genuinely new theory of Henry's medical history and the cause of his death; he has unearthed some fabulous eyewitness material and papers from death warrants, confessions and even love letters between Katherine Parr and the Lord High Admiral.
The Age of Shakespeare
By Frank Kermode
'The greatest literary scholar of his generation' (Independent) explains how the history of the Elizabethan era is the backdrop to William Shakespeare and his plays.Shakespeare made his unique contribution to British and world culture in the midst of Elizabeth's great reign. Here, the circumstances of each play's composition are acutely described, and set within a masterful portrait of Shakespeare's England - its early capitalism, its court, its bursting population, and its epidemics, as well as its arts - including, of course, its theatre. An important, lasting, and concise companion to Shakespeare's time.
By Gary Sheffield
On 1 July 1916, after a stupendous 7-day artillery preparation, the British Army finally launched its attack on the German line around the River Somme. Over the next four and half months they continued to attack, with little or no gain, and with horrendous losses to both sides. This book, written by the world's foremost expert in the subject, describes in chilling detail everything from the grand strategy to the experience of the men on the ground. Illustrated throughout, it is a stunning and absorbing depiction of the horror that was the Somme in 1916.
Mistress Of Charlecote
By A. Fairfax-Lucy
A delightful memoir of Mary Elizabeth Lucy and her life at Charlecote.Mary Elizabeth Williams, an heiress from North Wales, was only twenty when in 1823 she reluctantly married George Lucy and became mistress of Charlecote Old Hall in Warwickshire. Sixty years later she wrote this engaging account of her life for her grandchildren.It was a life of great happiness, for she grew to love her husband deeply. Her country home, her children, the London season and a tour abroad all brought joy and fulfilment. But her contentment was marred by tragedy as few of her many children survived her. Her words reveal a character of great strength and determination. High-spirited, discerning and delightfully free from prudishness, Mary Elizabeth Lucy draws pen-portraits of the people she met - Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott among them - and provides an authentic view of life in fashionable 19th-century society.