Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style


Ian Kelly - 2005
    His name has become synonymous with wit, profligacy, fine tailoring, and fashion. A style pundit, Brummell was singly responsible for changing forever the way men dress -- inventing, in effect, the suit.Brummell cut a dramatic swath through British society, from his early years as a favorite of the Prince of Wales and an arbiter of taste in the Age of Elegance, to his precipitous fall into poverty, incarceration, and madness. Brummell created the blueprint for celebrity crash and burn, falling dramatically out of favor and spending his last years in a hellish asylum. For nearly two decades, Brummell ruled over the tastes and pursuits of the well heeled and influential, and for almost as long, lived in penury and exile.With vivid prose, critically acclaimed biographer Ian Kelly unlocks the glittering, turbulent world of late-eighteenth/early-nineteenth-century London -- the first truly modern metropolis: venal, fashion-and-celebrity obsessed, self-centered and self-doubting -- through the life of one of its greatest heroes and most tragic victims. Brummell personified London's West End, where a new style of masculinity and modern men's fashion were first defined.Brummell was the leading Casanova and elusive bachelor of his time, appealing to both men and women of his society. The man Lord Byron once claimed was more important thanNapoleon, Brummell was the ultimate cosmopolitan man. "Toyboy" to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and leader of playboys including the eventual king of England, Brummell inspired Pushkin to write "Eugene Onegin," and Byron to write "Don Juan," and he influenced others from Oscar Wilde to Coco Chanel.Through love letters, historical records, and poems, Kelly reveals the man inside the suit, unlocking the scandalous behavior of London's high society while illuminating Brummell's enigmatic life in the colorful, tumultuous West End. A rare rendering of an era filled with excess, scandal, promiscuity, opulence, and luxury, "Beau Brummell" is the first comprehensive view of an elegant and ultimately tragic figure whose influence continues to this day.

Letters from a Lost Generation: First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends


Mark Bostridge - 1998
    The correspondence presents a remarkable and profoundly moving portrait of five idealistic youths caught up in the cataclysm of war. Spanning the duration of the war, the letters vividly convey the uncertainty, confusion, and almost unbearable suspense of the tumultuous war years. They offer important historical insights by illuminating both male and female perspectives and allow the reader to witness and understand the Great War from a variety of viewpoints, including those of the soldier in the trenches, the volunteer nurse in military hospitals, and even the civilian population on the home front. As Brittain wrote to Roland Leighton in 1915, shortly after he arrived on the Western Front: "Nothing in the papers, not the most vivid and heartbreaking descriptions, have made me realize war like your letters." Yet this collection is, above all, a dramatic account of idealism, disillusionment, and personal tragedy as revealed by the voices of four talented schoolboys who went almost immediately from public school in Britain to the battlefields of France, Belgium, and Italy. Linking each of their compelling stories is the passionate and eloquent voice of Vera Brittain, who gave up her own studies to enlist in the armed services as a nurse. As World War I fades from living memory, these letters are a powerful and stirring testament to a generation forever shattered and haunted by grief, loss, and promise unfulfilled.

The Life of P.T. Barnum


P.T. Barnum - 1855
    Barnum embodied all that was grand and fraudulent in American mass culture. Over the course of a life that spanned the nineteenth century (1810-91), he inflicted himself upon a surprisingly willing public in a variety of guises, from newspaper editor (or libeler) to traveling showman (or charlatan) and distinguished public benefactor (or shameless hypocrite).   Barnum deliberately cultivated his ambiguous public image through a lifelong advertising campaign, shrewdly exploiting the cultural and technological capabilities of the new publishing industry. While running his numerous shows and exhibitions, Barnum managed to publish newspaper articles, exposés of fraud (not his own), self-help tracts, and a series of best-selling autobiographies, each promising to give "the true history of my many adventures."   Updated editions of The Life of P. T. Barnum appeared regularly, allowing Barnum to keep up with demand and prune the narrative of details that might offend posterity. The present volume is the first modern edition of Barnum's original and outrageous autobiography, published in 1855 and unavailable for more than a century. Brazen, confessional, and immensely entertaining, it immortalizes the showman who hoodwinked customers into paying to hear the reminiscences of a woman presented as George Washington's 161-year-old nurse, the impresario who brought Jenny Lind to America and toured Europe with General Tom Thumb, and the grand entrepreneur of the American Museum of New York. Above all, it ensures that Barnum would be properly remembered . . . exactly as he created himself.

The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb: An American Slave


Henry Bibb - 1849
    Most significant, he is unique in exploring the importance of marriage and family to him, recounting his several trips to free his wife and child. This new edition includes an introduction by literary scholar Charles Heglar and a selection of letters and editorials by Bibb.

Jane Austen at Home


Lucy Worsley - 2017
    The result is a refreshingly unique perspective on Austen and her work and a beautifully nuanced exploration of gender, creativity, and domesticity."--Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of Georgianna, Duchess of DevonshireTake a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses--both grand and small--of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'. Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but--in the end--a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy. Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world’s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.

Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister of Georgiana


Janet Gleeson - 2006
    Harriet Spencer was without a doubt one of the most glamorous, influential, and notorious aristocrats of the Regency period.The second daughter of the prestigious Spencer family, Harriet was born into wealth and privilege. Intelligent, attractive, and exceedingly eager to please, at nineteen years of age she married Frederick, Viscount Duncannon, an aloof, distant relative. Unfortunately, it was not a happy union; the only trait they shared was an unhealthy love of gambling. The marriage produced four children, yet Harriet followed in the footsteps of her older sister and began a series of illicit dalliances, including one with the prominent and charismatic playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Then she met Lord Granville Leveson Gower, handsome and twelve years her junior. Their years-long affair resulted in the birth of two children, and all but consumed Harriet: concealing both pregnancies from her husband required great skill. Had the children been discovered, it surely would have resulted in divorce—which would have been disastrous.Harriet’s life was dramatic, and the history-making events she observed were equally fascinating. She was an eyewitness to the French Revolution; she participated in both the euphoria following Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar and the outpouring of grief at his spectacular funeral; she was privy to the debauchery of the Prince Regent’s wife, Princess Caroline. She quarreled bitterly with Lord Byron when he pursued her young daughter (rumor had it that he was truly interested in Harriet herself). She traveled through war-torn Europe during both the rise and the fall of Napoleon and saw the devastating aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, where her son was gravely injured. Harriet, along with her sister, was one of the leading female political activists of her day; her charm allowed her to campaign noisily for Charles James Fox—while still retaining influence over supporters of his rival, William Pitt the Younger. Harriet survived Georgiana by fifteen years, living to see the coronation of George IV.Janet Gleeson’s elegant, page-turning style brings Harriet’s story vividly to life. Based on painstaking archival research, Privilege and Scandal gives readers an inside look at the lives of the British aristocracy during the decadent eighteenth century—while at the same time shining the spotlight on one of the era’s most fascinating women.From the Hardcover edition.

Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen


Liliuokalani - 1898
    When this book was first published in 1898, it was an international plea for justice. Just as Admiral Thomas had restored Hawaiian sovereignty in 1843 following an illegal action by Lord Paulet, Queen Lili'uokalani prayed that the American nation would similarly reestablish the Hawaiian throne. Queen Lili'uokalani died on November 11, 1917, her poignant plea for justice unanswered. "If a big wave comes in large fishes will come from the dark ocean which you never saw before, and when they see the small fishes they will eat them up; such also is the case with large animals, they will prey on the smaller ones; the ships of the whitemen have come, and smart people have arrived from the Great Countries which you have never seen before, they know our people are few in number and living in a small country; they will eat us up, such has always been the case with large countries, the small ones have been gobbled up." - David Malo

Queen Victoria


Lytton Strachey - 2002
    Index; illustrations.

The Islandman


Tomas O'Crohan - 1929
    He shared to the full the perilous life of a primitive community, yet possessed a shrewd and humorous detachment that enabled him to observe and describe the world. His book is a valuable description of a now vanished way of life; his sole purpose in writing it was in his own words, 'to set down the character of the people about me so that some record of us might live after us, for the like of us will never be again'.The Blasket Islands are three miles off Irelands Dingle Peninsula. Until their evacuation just after the Second World War, the lives of the 150 or so Blasket Islanders had remained unchanged for centuries. A rich oral tradition of story-telling, poetry, and folktales kept alive the legends and history of the islands, and has made their literature famous throughout the world. The 7 Blasket Island books published by OUP contain memoirs and reminiscences from within this literary tradition, evoking a way of life which has now vanished.

Outrageous Fortune: Growing Up at Leeds Castle


Anthony Russell - 2013
    Money, and lots of it, appeared to grow on trees, especially those which adorned the Leeds Castle parkland. Ancestors with glowing titles and extraordinary accomplishments filled the history books, but there would be consequences for being handed everything of a material nature on a plate, with no clear indication of what one might be expected to do with such good fortune."Leeds Castle has long been hailed as the loveliest castle in the world. Originally built in the twelfth century as a Norman stronghold, the castle once housed Kings and Queens, but fell into disrepair for nearly a century, until Anthony Russell's grandmother, Lady Baillie, purchased it in 1926 and restored the fortress to its former glory. It was in the castle's fairytale setting, surrounded by a moat and acres of sprawling grounds, that Anthony spent his childhood in the 1950s.It was a life of spectacular beauty and privilege, but for a shy boy often lonely and fraught with the fear of breaking some unwritten rule of the Castle Way. As Anthony reveals in his extraordinarily vivid and frank memoir, such a childhood was perhaps not the best preparation for modern life beyond the castle's walls. By the end of the 1960s, the polite reserve of the Castle Way was starting to give way to unconventional music, manners, and social freedom-simultaneously alluring and alarming to a young man who had grown up in splendid isolation in a world that would soon be gone.

Jane Austen's World: The Life and Times of England's Most Popular Author


Maggie Lane - 2013
    Jane Austen's World takes a look at the woman behind the literature, revealing her private life and examining the world she inhabited—a time when England was developing into a colonial power, the Napoleonic Wars raged, and the Regency took hold. No other book truly captures Austen's spirit as well.

Malta Spitfire: The Diary of an Ace Fighter Pilot


George Beurling - 1943
    Twenty-five thousand feet above Malta--that is where the Spitfires intercepted the Messerschmitts, Macchis, and Reggianes as they swept eastward in their droves, screening the big Junkers with their bomb loads as they pummeled the island beneath: the most bombed patch of ground in the world. One of those Spitfire pilots was George Beurling, nicknamed "Screwball," who in fourteen flying days destroyed twenty-seven German and Italian aircraft and damaged many more. Hailing from Canada, Beurling finally made it to Malta in the summer of 1942 after hard training and combat across the Channel. Malta Spitfire tells his story and that of the gallant Spitfire squadron, 249, which day after day ascended to the "top of the hill" to meet the enemy against overwhelming odds. With this memoir, readers experience the sensation of being in the cockpit with him, climbing to meet the planes driving in from Sicily, diving down through the fighter screen at the bombers, dodging the bullets coming out of the sun, or whipping up under the belly of an Me for a deflection shot at the engine. This is war without sentiment or romance, told in terms of human courage, skill, and heroism--a classic of WWII military aviation.

The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy


Sofia Tolstaya - 1984
    Her life was not an easy one: she idealized her husband but was tormented by him. She lived against the background of one of the most turbulent periods in her country’s history, as old feudal Russia was transformed by three revolutions and three major international wars.Yet it is as Sofia Tolstoy’s own life story—the study of one woman’s private experience—that these diaries are most valuable and moving. They reveal a woman of tremendous vital energy and poetic sensibility who, in the face of provocation and suffering, continued to strive for the higher things in life and to remain indomitable.

Minding the Manor: The Memoir of a 1930s English Kitchen Maid


Mollie Moran - 2013
    She provides a rare and fascinating insight into a world that has long since vanished. Mollie left school at age fourteen and became a scullery maid for a wealthy gentleman with a mansion house in London’s Knighsbridge and a Tudor manor in Norfolk.            Even though Mollie's days were long and grueling and included endless tasks, such as polishing doorknobs, scrubbing steps, and helping with all of the food prep in the kitchen, she enjoyed her freedom and had a rich life. Like any bright-eyed teenager, Mollie also spent her days daydreaming about boys, dresses, and dances. She became fast friends with the kitchen maid Flo, dated a sweet farmhand, and became secretly involved with a brooding, temperamental footman. Molly eventually rose to kitchen maid for Lord Islington and then cook for the Earl of Leicester's niece at the magnificent Wallington Hall.

Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of The Original People's Princess


James Chambers - 2007
    A story that Jane Austen famously declined to tell, declaring: “I could no more write a romance than an epic poem.”Charlotte was the only legitimate royal child of her generation, and her death in childbirth resulted in a public outpouring of grief the like of which was not to be seen again until the death of Diana, over 150 years later. Charlotte’s death was followed by an unseemly scramble to produce a substitute heir. Queen Victoria was the product.James Chambers masterfully demonstrates how the personal and the political inevitably collide in scheming post-Napoleonic Europe, offering a vivid and sympathetic portrait of a couple whose lives are in many ways not their own. From the day she was born, Charlotte won the hearts of her subjects and yet, behind the scenes, she was used, abused, and victimized by rivalries—between her parents; between her father (the Prince Regent, later King George IV) and (Mad) King George III; between her tutors, governesses, and other members of her discordant household; and ultimately between the Whig opposition and the Tory government.Set in one of the most glamorous eras of British history, against the background of a famously dysfunctional royal family, Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of The Original People’s Princess is an accessible, moving, funny, and entertaining royal biography with alluring contemporary resonance.James Chambers is a professional historian and author of many books on British and colonial history, including The Daily Telegraph History of the British Empire, which sold over 250,000 copies. He has also written extensively for television and made countless BBC TV and radio appearances.