Britain has been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs. To say that it's high time it was defined by its women is a severe understatement. Jenni Murray draws together the lives of 21 women to shed light upon a variety of social, political, religious and cultural aspects of British history. In lively prose Murray reinvigorates the stories behind the names we all know and reveals the fascinating tales behind those less familiar.
"Very enjoyable and interesting"
In The English and their History, the first full-length account to appear in one volume for many decades, Robert Tombs gives us the history of the English people and of how the stories they have told about themselves have shaped them, from the prehistoric 'dreamtime' through to the present day.
The brilliantly compelling new biography of the treacherous and tyrannical King John, published to coincide with the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Authoritative and dramatic, Marc Morris' King John offers a compelling portrait of an extraordinary king whose reign marked a momentous turning point in the history of Britain and Europe. King John is buried in Worcester Cathedral.
Best-selling author Christopher Winn takes us on a captivating journey around London to discover the unknown tales of our capital's history. Travelling through the villages and districts that make up the world's most dynamic metropolis, I Never Knew That About London unearths the hidden gems of legends, firsts, inventions, adventures and birthplaces that shape the city's compelling and at times turbulent past.
"Informative good book"
In the early 1970s, Britain seemed to be tottering on the brink of the abyss. Under Edward Heath, the optimism of the '60s had become a distant memory. Now the headlines were dominated by strikes and blackouts, unemployment and inflation. As the world looked on in horrified fascination, Britain seemed to be tearing itself apart. And yet, amid the gloom, glittered a creativity and cultural dynamism that would influence our lives long after the nightmarish '70s had been forgotten.
"Seventies in detail"
John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough (1644-1722), was one of the greatest military commanders and statesmen in the history of England. Victorious in the Battles of Blenheim (1704) and Ramillies (1706) and countless other campaigns, Marlborough, whose political intrigues were almost as legendary as his military skill, never fought a battle he didn't win. Marlborough also bequeathed the world another great British military strategist and diplomat, his descendant, Winston S. Churchill.
"You had better come prepared"
This magnificent biography of Henry VIII is set against the cultural, social and political background of his court - the most spectacular court ever seen in England - and the splendour of his many sumptuous palaces. An entertaining narrative packed with colourful description and a wealth of anecdotal evidence, but also a comprehensive analytical study of the development of both monarch and court during a crucial period in English history.
The bloodbath at Waterloo ended a war that had engulfed the world for over 20 years. It also finished the career of the charismatic Napoleon Bonaparte. It ensured the final liberation of Germany and the restoration of the old European monarchies, and it represented one of very few defeats for the glorious French army, most of whose soldiers remained devoted to their Emperor until the very end.
"The best account of the Waterloo campaign.....ever"
In the early 1970s, Britain seemed to be tottering on the brink of the abyss. Under Edward Heath, the optimism of the Sixties had become a distant memory. Now the headlines were dominated by strikes and blackouts, unemployment and inflation. As the world looked on in horrified fascination, Britain seemed to be tearing itself apart. And yet, amid the gloom, glittered a creativity and cultural dynamism that would influence our lives long after the nightmarish Seventies had been forgotten.
From the Norman Conquest to the Battle of Bosworth Field - how Britain was invaded and became a nation. The first volume in the stunning four-volume Brief History of Britain series. From the Battle of Hastings to the Battle of Bosworth Field, Nicholas Vincent tells the story of how Britain was born. When William, Duke of Normandy, killed King Harold and seized the throne of England, England's language, culture, politics, and law were transformed.
"Best introduction to medieval history"
In April 1940, the ninth Duke of Rutland died in mysterious circumstances in one of the rooms of his family estate, Belvoir Castle. The mystery surrounding these rooms holds the key to a tragic story that is played out on the brutal battlefields of the Western Front and in the exclusive salons of Mayfair and Belgravia in the dying years of la belle époque. Uncovered is a dark and disturbing period in the history of the Rutland family, and one which they were determined to keep hidden for over 60 years. Sixty years on, The Secret Rooms is the true story of family secrets and one man's determination to keep the past hidden at any cost.
"Great read. Great narration."
The 1980s was the revolutionary decade of the 20th century. From the Falklands war and the miners' strike to Bobby Sands and the Guildford Four, from Diana and the New Romantics to Live Aid and the 'big bang', from the Rubik's cube to the ZX Spectrum, McSmith's brilliant narrative account uncovers the truth behind the decade that changed Britain forever - politically, economically and culturally.
"So close and yet so far"
Elizabeth II is within a few years of becoming the longest-reigning British monarch. A personally quiet, modest and dutiful person, she is far better-informed about the lives of her subjects than they often realize. She has known every Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and every American President since Eisenhower. Yet what of the woman behind the crown?
Starting AD 400 (around the time of their invasion of England) and running through to the 1100s (the 'Aftermath'), historian Geoffrey Hindley shows the Anglo-Saxons as formative in the history not only of England but also of Europe. The society inspired by the warrior world of the Old English poem Beowulf saw England become the world's first nation state and Europe's first country to conduct affairs in its own language, and Bede and Boniface of Wessex establish the dating convention we still use today.
"Hard work. But...not bad."
Andrew Marr's first book tells the distinctive story of Scottish politics - now updated with a new introductory chapter. "We may be about to see a new country - indeed, two new countries, emerging on these islands. Half a lifetime ago, I sat down to write this book as a work of history. As it's aged, it's become current affairs."
"Criminally Out Of Date"
A fascinating new portrait of Medieval Britain that brings together the everyday and the extraordinary. Using wide-ranging evidence, Martyn Whittock shines a light on Britain in the Middle Ages, bringing it vividly to life. Thus we glimpse 11th century rural society through a conversation between a ploughman and his master. The life of Dick Whittington illuminates the rise of the urban elite.
"Back in the dark ages. "
Sinclair McKay's book is the first history for the general listener of life at Bletchley Park, and an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their 80s - of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds, of a youthful Roy Jenkins, useless at code breaking, of the hijinks at nearby accommodation hostels - and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other's work.
The Victorian era has dominated the popular imagination like no other period, but these myths and stories also give a very distorted view of the 19th century. The early Victorians were much stranger than we usually imagine, and their world would have felt very different from our own. It was only during the long reign of the Queen that a modern society emerged in unexpected ways.
This is the story of Elizabeth I's inner circle and the crucial human relationships which lay at the heart of her personal and political life. Using a wide range of original sources - including private letters, portraits, verse, drama, and state papers - Susan Doran provides a vivid and often dramatic account of political life in Elizabethan England and the queen at its center.
Here is the whole of recorded British royal history, from the legendary King Alfred the Great onwards, including the monarchies of England, Scotland, Wales and the United Kingdom for over a thousand years. Fascinating portraits are expertly woven into a history of division and eventual union of the British Isles - even royals we think most familiar are revealed in a new and sometimes surprising light.This edition includes biographies of the royals of recorded British history, plus an overview of the semi-
"Jam packed full."
The story of Britain from the earliest settlements in 3000BC to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. To look back at the past is to understand the present. In this vivid account of over 4,000 years of British history, Simon Schama takes us on an epic journey which encompasses the very beginnings of the nation's identity, when the first settlers landed on Orkney. From the successes and failures of the monarchy to the daily life of a Roman soldier stationed on Hadrian's Wall, Schama gives a vivid, fascinating account of the many different stories and struggles that lie behind the growth of our island nation.
"Fun and educational"
Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, considering how the ordinary things in life came to be.
"More Fact Pact Bryson"
The first five volumes from the landmark BBC radio series This Sceptred Isle. Christopher Lee's epic history tells the story of Britain from the Romans to the death of Victoria. This collection includes the original first five volumes.
"SOMEONE HAS BLUNDERED"
Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, a country house called The Firs in Buckinghamshire was requisitioned by the War Office. Sentries were posted at the entrance gates, and barbed wire was strung around the perimeter fence. To local villagers it looked like a prison camp. But the truth was far more sinister. This rambling Edwardian mansion had become home to an eccentric band of scientists, inventors and bluestockings. Their task was to build devastating new weaponry that could be used against the Nazis.
"Humbling and enthralling"
The British wars began on the morning of 23 July 1637, heralding 200 years of battles. Most were driven by religious or political conviction, as Republicans and Royalists, Catholics and Protestants, Tories and Whigs, and colonialists and natives vied for supremacy. Of the battles not fought on home territory, many took place across Europe, America, India, and also at sea. Schama's examination of this turbulent period reveals how the British people eventually united in imperial enterprise, forming 'Britannia Incorporated'.
"Excellent, engaging but lots to remember"
A History of Modern Britain confronts head-on the victory of shopping over politics. It tells the story of how the great political visions of New Jerusalem or a second Elizabethan Age, rival idealisms, came to be defeated by a culture of consumerism, celebrity and self-gratification. In each decade political leaders think they know what they are doing but find themselves confounded. Every time the British people turn out to be stroppier and harder to herd than predicted.
Timothy West reads the third and concluding volume of award-winning historian Simon Schama's compelling chronicle of the British Isles. Here he illuminates the period from 1776 to 2000 through a variety of historical themes, including Victorian advances in technology and industry, women's increasing role in society, and the burgeoning British Empire which promised civilisation and material betterment for all.
"great history, great performance"
Imagine you could travel back to the 14th century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? And what are you going to eat? Ian Mortimer shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. He sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking you to the Middle Ages. The result is the most astonishing social history book you are ever likely to read: evolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail.
"A fascinating listen"
The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior.
What was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time? In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that a visitor to late 16th-century England would ask.
"Almost but not quite"
On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the world in which our best-loved novelist lived. This new telling of the story of Jane's life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her and the way in which home is used in her novels to mean both a place of pleasure and a prison. It wasn't all country houses and ballrooms; in fact her life was often a painful struggle.
England, July 1540: it is one of the hottest summers on record, and the court of Henry VIII is embroiled once again in political scandal. Anne Cleves is out. Thomas Cromwell is to be executed and, in the countryside, an aristocratic teenager named Catherine Howard prepares to become fifth wife to the increasingly unpredictable monarch.
"Short Lived Queen Consort"
A groundbreaking account of what it was like to live in a Victorian body from one of our best historians, author of The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton and George Eliot: The Last Victorian. Why did the great philosophical novelist George Eliot feel so self-conscious that her right hand was larger than her left? Exactly what made Darwin grow that iconic beard in 1862, a good five years after his contemporaries had all retired their razors?
"Warts and All!"
This volume of Churchill's history of the Second World War recounts the events of 1941 surrounding America's entry into the War, Hitler's march on Russia, and the alliance between Britain and America.
"Another engrossing instalment"
Thomas Cromwell is known to millions as the leading character in Hilary Mantel's best-selling Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. But who was the real Cromwell? Born a lowly tavern keeper's son, Cromwell rose swiftly through the ranks to become Henry VIII's right-hand man, and one of the most powerful figures in Tudor history. The architect of England's break with the Roman Catholic Church and the dissolution of the monasteries, he oversaw seismic changes in our country's history.
"Spoiled by additional narration"
A graphic and biting polemic that still holds a fierce political relevance and impact despite being written over half a century ago. First published in 1937 it charts George Orwell's observations of working-class life during the 1930s in the industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire. His depictions of social injustice and rising unemployment, the dangerous working conditions in the mines amid general squalor and hunger also bring together many of the ideas explored in his later works and novels.
"Life-changing book that's perfect for audio"
The Tudor era encompasses some of the greatest changes in our history. But while we know about the historical dramas of the times, what was life really like for a commoner? To answer this question, the renowned 'method historian' Ruth Goodman has slept, washed and cooked as the Tudors did. She is your expert guide to this fascinating era, drawing on years of practical historical study to show how our ancestors coped with everyday life, from how they slept to how they courted.
"Very good overall"