This richly entertaining biography chronicles the eventful life of Queen Victoria's firstborn son, the quintessential black sheep of Buckingham Palace, who matured into as wise and effective a monarch as Britain has ever seen. Granted unprecedented access to the royal archives, noted scholar Jane Ridley draws on numerous primary sources to paint a vivid portrait of the man and the age to which he gave his name. Born Prince Albert Edward, and known to familiars as "Bertie," the future King Edward VII had a well-earned reputation for debauchery. A notorious gambler, glutton, and womanizer, he preferred the company of wastrels and courtesans to the dreary life of the Victorian court. His own mother considered him a lazy halfwit, temperamentally unfit to succeed her. When he ascended to the throne in 1901, at age fifty-nine, expectations were low. Yet by the time he died nine years later, he had proven himself a deft diplomat, hardworking head of state, and the architect of Britain's modern constitutional monarchy. Jane Ridley's colorful biography rescues the man once derided as "Edward the Caresser" from the clutches of his historical detractors. Excerpts from letters and diaries shed new light on Bertie's long power struggle with Queen Victoria, illuminating one of the most emotionally fraught mother-son relationships in history. Considerable attention is paid to King Edward's campaign of personal diplomacy abroad and his valiant efforts to reform the political system at home. Separating truth from legend, Ridley also explores Bertie's relationships with the women in his life. Their ranks comprised his wife, the stunning Danish princess Alexandra, along with some of the great beauties of the era: the actress Lillie Langtry, longtime "royal mistress" Alice Keppel (the great-grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles), and Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston. Edward VII waited nearly six decades for his chance to rule, then did so with considerable panache and aplomb. A magnificent life of an unexpectedly impressive king, The Heir Apparent documents the remarkable transformation of a man--and a monarchy--at the dawn of a new century. Praise for The Heir Apparent "If The Heir Apparent] isn't the definitive life story of this fascinating figure of British history, then nothing ever will be."--The Christian Science Monitor
"The Heir Apparent is smart, it's fascinating, it's sometimes funny, it's well-documented and it reads like a novel, with Bertie so vivid he nearly leaps from the page, cigars and all."--Minneapolis Star Tribune
"I closed The Heir Apparent with admiration and a kind of wry exhilaration."--The Wall Street Journal "Ridley is a serious scholar and historian, who keeps Bertie's flaws and virtues in a fine balance."--The Boston Globe "Brilliantly entertaining . . . a landmark royal biography."--The Sunday Telegraph "Superb."--The New York Times Book Review
"An accessible, exciting narrative . . . Highly recommended for generalists interested in Russian history and those who enjoy the seamier side of past lives."--Library Journal (starred review) "An excellent condensed version of Russian history . . . a fine tale of history and scandal . . . sure to please general readers and monarchy buffs alike."--Publishers Weekly
"Tales from the nasty lives of global royalty . . . an easy-reading, lightweight history lesson."--Kirkus Reviews
"Readers of this book may get a sense of why Russians are so tolerant of tyrants like Stalin and Putin. Given their history, it probably seems normal."--The Washington Post
The New York Times bestselling history of the legendary six wives of Henry VIII--from the acclaimed author of Marie Antoinette.Under Antonia Fraser's intent scrutiny, Catherine of Aragon emerges as a scholar-queen who steadfastly refused to grant a divorce to her royal husband; Anne Boleyn is absolved of everything but a sharp tongue and an inability to produce a male heir; and Catherine Parr is revealed as a religious reformer with the good sense to tack with the treacherous winds of the Tudor court. And we gain fresh understanding of Jane Seymour's circumspect wisdom, the touching dignity of Anna of Cleves, and the youthful naivete that led to Katherine Howard's fatal indiscretions. The Wives of Henry VIII interweaves passion and power, personality and politics, into a superb work of history.
--USA Today It was the most influential marriage of the nineteenth century--and one of history' s most enduring love stories. Traditional biographies tell us that Queen Victoria inherited the throne as a na ve teenager, when the British Empire was at the height of its power, and seemed doomed to find failure as a monarch and misery as a woman until she married her German cousin Albert and accepted him as her lord and master. Now renowned chronicler Gillian Gill turns this familiar story on its head, revealing a strong, feisty queen and a brilliant, fragile prince working together to build a family based on support, trust, and fidelity, qualities neither had seen much of as children. The love affair that emerges is far more captivating, complex, and relevant than that depicted in any previous account. The epic relationship began poorly. The cousins first met as teenagers for a few brief, awkward, chaperoned weeks in 1836. At seventeen, charming rather than beautiful, Victoria already "showed signs of wanting her own way." Albert, the boy who had been groomed for her since birth, was chubby, self-absorbed, and showed no interest in girls, let alone this princess. So when they met again in 1839 as queen and presumed prince-consort-to-be, neither had particularly high hopes. But the queen was delighted to discover a grown man, refined, accomplished, and whiskered. "Albert is beautiful " Victoria wrote, and she proposed just three days later. As Gill reveals, Victoria and Albert entered their marriage longing for intimate companionship, yet each was determined to be the ruler. This dynamic would continue through the years--each spouse, headstrong and impassioned, eager to lead the marriage on his or her own terms. For two decades, Victoria and Albert engaged in a very public contest for dominance. Against all odds, the marriage succeeded, but it was always a work in progress. And in the end, it was Albert's early death that set the Queen free to create the myth of her marriage as a peaceful idyll and her husband as Galahad, pure and perfect. As Gill shows, the marriage of Victoria and Albert was great not because it was perfect but because it was passionate and complicated. Wonderfully nuanced, surprising, often acerbic--and informed by revealing excerpts from the pair's journals and letters--We Two is a revolutionary portrait of a queen and her prince, a fascinating modern perspective on a couple who have become a legend.
The first full scale biography of Wallis Simpson to be written by a woman, exploring the mind of one of the most glamorous and reviled figures of the Twentieth Century, a character who played prominently in the blockbuster film The King's Speech.
This is the story of the American divorcee notorious for allegedly seducing a British king off his throne. That woman, so called by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, was born Bessie Wallis Warfield in 1896 in Baltimore. Neither beautiful nor brilliant, she endured an impoverished childhood, which fostered in her a burning desire to rise above her circumstances.
Acclaimed biographer Anne Sebba offers an eye-opening account of one of the most talked about women of her generation. It explores the obsessive nature of Simpson's relationship with Prince Edward, the suggestion that she may have had a Disorder of Sexual Development, and new evidence showing she may never have wanted to marry Edward at all.
Since her death, Simpson has become a symbol of female empowerment as well as a style icon. But her psychology remains an enigma. Drawing from interviews and newly discovered letters, That Woman shines a light on this captivating and complex woman, an object of fascination that has only grown with the years.
You think you know her story. You've read the Brothers Grimm, you've watched the Disney cartoons, and you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But real princesses didn't always get happy endings. Sure, plenty were graceful and benevolent leaders, but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power--and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev slaughtered her way to sainthood while Princess Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back. Princesses Behaving Badly offers true tales of all these princesses and dozens more in a fascinating read that's perfect for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.