Book News March 2019




Informally Royal: Studio Lisa and the Royal Family

Hardcover – 1 November 2018 (US) & 1 March 2019 (UK)

A chance meeting in 1936 gave Lisa and Jimmy Sheridan the opportunity of a lifetime. Keen amateur photographers, their company, Studio Lisa, were engaged by the then Duke and Duchess of York to take informal, casual photographs of them and their young daughters, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, at their home in Piccadilly. At a time of traditional formality, when it was unheard of for mere commoners to be given such an opportunity, the hiring of Studio Lisa proved to be a revolutionary and popular move on the part of the royals as it humanized them in the eyes of their subjects. They soon struck up an unlikely friendship with Lisa and Jimmy – a friendship that would span over 30 years and yield 13 separate photographic sessions, the latter including Queen Elizabeth’s young children. Informally Royalcharts the story of Studio Lisa, from its humble beginnings right through to it being granted a Royal Warrant, and showcases for the first time in one volume their remarkable royal photographs, making it a collector’s item for posterity.

Silk and the Sword: The Women of the Norman Conquest

Hardcover – 15 November 2018 (UK) & 1 March 2019 (US)

The momentous events of 1066, the story of invasion, battle and conquest, are well known. But what of the women?

Harold II of England had been with Edith Swanneck for twenty years but in 1066, in order to strengthen his hold on the throne, he married Ealdgyth, sister of two earls. William of Normandy’s Duchess, Matilda of Flanders, had supposedly only agreed to marry the Duke after he’d pulled her pigtails and thrown her in the mud. Harald Hardrada had two wives – apparently at the same time. So, who were these women? What was their real story? And what happened to them after 1066?

These are not peripheral figures. Emma of Normandy was a Norman married to both a Saxon and a Dane ‒ and the mother of a king from each. Wife of both King Cnut and Aethelred II, the fact that, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, she had control of the treasury at the end of the reigns of both Cnut and Harthacnut suggests the extent of Emma’s influence over these two kings –and the country itself.

Then there is Saint Margaret, a descendant of Alfred the Great, and the less well known but still influential Gundrada de Warenne, the wife of one of William the Conqueror’s most loyal knights, and one of the few men who it is known beyond doubt was with the Duke at the Battle of Hastings.

These are lives full of drama, pathos and sometimes mystery: Edith and Gytha searching the battlefield of Hastings for the body of Harold, his lover and mother united in their grief for the fallen king. Who was Ælfgyva, the lady of the Bayeux Tapestry, portrayed with a naked man at her feet?

Silk and the Sword traces the fortunes of the women who had a significant role to play during the Norman Conquest – wives, lovers, sisters, mothers, leaders.

Isabella d’Este: A Renaissance Princess (Routledge Historical Biographies)

Hardcover – 15 March 2019 (UK) & 22 March 2019 (US)

Paperback – 15 March 2019 (UK) & 24 March 2019 (US)

Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua (1474-1539), is one of the most studied figures of Renaissance Italy, as an epitome of Renaissance court culture, and as a woman having an unusually prominent role in the politics of her day. This biography provides a rounded account of the full range of her activities and interests, from her childhood to her final years as a dowager and considers Isabella d’Este not as an icon but as a woman of her time and place in the world. It covers all aspects of her life including her relationship with her parents and siblings as well as with her husband and children; her interest in literature and music, painting and antiquities; her political and diplomatic activities; her concern with fashion and jewellery; her relations with other women; and her love of travel.

In this book, grounded in an understanding of the context of the Italy of her day, the typical interests and behaviour of women of Isabella d’Este’s status within Renaissance Italy are distinguished from those that were unique to her, such as the elaborate apartments that she created for herself and her extensive surviving correspondence, which provides insights into all aspects of life in the major courts of northern Italy, centres of Renaissance culture.

Providing fresh perspectives on one of the most famous figures of Renaissance Italy, Isabella d’Este will be of great interest to undergraduates and graduates of early modern history, gender studies, renaissance studies and art history.

Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Children of Edward I

Hardcover – 21 March 2019 (US & UK)

Virginal, chaste, humble, patiently waiting for rescue by brave knights and handsome princes: this idealized – and largely mythical – notion of the medieval noblewoman still lingers. Yet the reality was very different, as Kelcey Wilson-Lee shows in this vibrant account of the five daughters of the great English king, Edward I.

The lives of these sisters – Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth – ran the full gamut of experiences open to royal women in the Middle Ages. Living as they did in a courtly culture founded on romantic longing and brilliant pageantry, they knew that a princess was to be chaste yet a mother to many children, preferably sons, meek yet able to influence a recalcitrant husband or even command a host of men-at-arms. Edward’s daughters were of course expected to cement alliances and secure lands and territory by making great dynastic marriages, or endow religious houses with royal favour. But they also skilfully managed enormous households, navigated choppy diplomatic waters and promoted their family’s cause throughout Europe – and had the courage to defy their royal father. They might never wear the crown in their own right, but they were utterly confident of their crucial role in the spectacle of medieval kingship.

Drawing on a wide range of contemporary sources, Daughters of Chivalry offers a rich portrait of these spirited Plantagenet women. With their libraries of beautifully illustrated psalters and tales of romance, their rich silks and gleaming jewels, we follow these formidable women throughout their lives and see them – at long last – shine from out of the shadows, revealing what it was to be a princess in the Age of Chivalry.

Matilda: Empress, Queen, Warrior

Hardcover – 12 March 2019 (UK) & 23 April 2019 (US)

A life of Matilda-empress, skilled military leader, and one of the greatest figures of the English Middle Ages Matilda was a daughter, wife, and mother. But she was also empress, heir to the English crown-the first woman ever to hold the position-and an able military general. This new biography explores Matilda’s achievements as military and political leader, and sets her life and career in full context. Catherine Hanley provides fresh insight into Matilda’s campaign to claim the title of queen, her approach to allied kingdoms and rival rulers, and her role in the succession crisis. Hanley highlights how Matilda fought for the throne, and argues that although she never sat on it herself her reward was to see her son become king. Extraordinarily, her line has continued through every single monarch of England or Britain from that time to the present day.

The Real Wallis Simpson: A New History of the American Divorcée Who Became the Duchess of Windsor

Hardcover – 5 March 2019 (US & UK)

The story that has been told repeatedly is this: The handsome, charismatic, and popular Prince Edward was expected to marry a well-bred virgin who would one day become Queen of England when he ascended the throne. But when the prince was 37 years old, he fell in love with a skinny, divorced American woman—Wallis Simpson. No one thought the affair would last, and when the prince did become king, everyone assumed the affair would end.

But instead the new king announced he wanted to marry the American divorcee, and Wallis was accused of entrapping the prince in a seductive web in order to achieve her audacious ambition to be queen. After declaring that he could not rule without the woman he loved at his side, the king gave up his throne, and his family banished him and his new wife from England. The couple spent the rest of their days in exile, but happy in their devoted love for each other.

Now, Anna Pasternak’s The Real Wallis Simpson tells a different story: that Wallis was the victim of the abdication, not the villain. Warm, well-mannered, and witty, Wallis was flattered by Prince Edward’s attention, but like everyone else, she never expected his infatuation to last. She never wanted to divorce her second husband or marry Edward. She never anticipated his jealous, possessive nature—and his absolute refusal to let her go.

Edward’s true dark nature, however, was no secret to the royal family, the church or the Parliament; everyone close to Edward knew that beyond his charming façade, he was immature, self-absorbed, and uneducated—utterly unfit to rule. Wallis begged Edward to stay on the throne and let her go, foreseeing the verdict history would pass on her. Caught in Edward’s fierce obsession, she became the perfect scapegoat for those who wished to dethrone the king they feared to rule. On the night Wallis died, Princess Margaret told a friend, “It wasn’t her we hated, it was him.”

Rejecting the sinister schemer at the center of a dark royal fairytale, Anna Pasternak reveals Wallis Simpson as an intelligent woman, written off by cunning, powerful men and forced into a life she never wanted in a complex, riveting, and tragic true story of manipulation and betrayal.

An Audience with Queen Victoria: The Royal Opinion on 30 Famous Victorians

Paperback – 1 March 2019 (UK) & 1 June 2019 (US)

During her 63-year reign Queen Victoria met everyone from Charlotte Brontë to Buffalo Bill; she had opinions on all those who graced her parlor—and some who didn’t. This book examines the meetings and letters exchanged between the queen and a veritable who’s who of her time. It draws on often brutal character assessments in her journals and letters—Henry “Dr. Livingstone I presume” Stanley was “a determined ugly little Man.” Exploring those she met officially and personally, and her thoughts on figures of the time such as Jack the Ripper, this book unlocks a fascinating aspect of Victoria’s outlook through brand-new archival research, newspapers and interviews with descendants.

All Hail the Queen: Twenty Women Who Ruled

Hardcover – 5 March 2019 (US & UK)

Discover twenty true stories of royal intrigue, power, and passion, brought to life through the gorgeous illustrations of Jennifer Orkin Lewis and the witty words of Shweta Jha. From Cleopatra to Empress Wu Zetian, Marie Antoinette to Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, these extraordinary female monarchs from all over the world have captured imaginations throughout the ages. With a deluxe foil-spangled two-piece case, this elegant and diverse celebration of women in charge makes the perfect Mother’s Day or girlfriend go-to gift for the queen in our lives.

Becoming a Queen in Early Modern Europe: East and West (Queenship and Power)

Hardcover – 27 March 2019 (US & UK)

Queens of Poland are conspicuously absent from the study of European queenship―an absence which, together with early modern Poland’s marginal place in the historiography, results in a picture of European royal culture that can only be lopsided and incomplete. Katarzyna Kosior cuts through persistent stereotypes of an East-West dichotomy and a culturally isolated early modern Poland to offer a groundbreaking comparative study of royal ceremony in Poland and France. The ceremonies of becoming a Jagiellonian or Valois queen, analysed in their larger European context, illuminate the connections that bound together monarchical Europe. These ceremonies are a gateway to a fuller understanding of European royal culture, demonstrating that it is impossible to make claims about European queenship without considering eastern Europe.

The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown

Paperback – 26 March 2019 (US & UK)

Few know the Windsor family as well as veteran royal biographer and journalist Penny Junor. In The Duchess, she casts her insightful, sensitive eye on the intriguing, once widely despised, and little-known Camilla Parker Bowles, revealing in full, for the first time, the remarkable rise of a woman who was the most notorious mistress in the world, famously blamed by Diana for wrecking her marriage to Charles.

In marrying the Prince of Wales in 2005, this hitherto private and self-effacing mother of two became the second most senior female member of the British Royal Family. She made him laugh again; made him a happier, more confident man, who with her by his side, will go on to be a successful and popular king. But in so doing she also made sacrifices. She gave up the freedom she had always taken for granted. She signed up to a future of public engagements, ceremonies, receptions, overseas tours, and charitable work that would exhaust women half her age.

Junor argues that although Camilla played a central role in the darkest days of the modern monarchy—Charles and Diana’s acrimonious and scandalous split—she will one day be seen as the woman who shored up the British monarchy. A woman with no ambition to be a princess, a duchess, or a queen, Camilla simply wanted to be with, and support, the man who has always been the love of her life. Junor contends that their marriage has allowed Charles finally to become comfortable as the heir to the British throne.

Good Queen Anne: Appraising the Life and Reign of the Last Stuart Monarch

Paperback – 29 March 2019 (US) & 30 March 2019 (UK)

Queen Anne (1665-1714) was not charismatic, brilliant or beautiful, but under her rule, England rose from the chaos of regicide, civil war and revolution to the cusp of global supremacy. She fought a successful overseas war against Europe’s superpower and her moderation kept the crown independent of party warfare at home. This biography reveals Anne Stuart as resolute, kind and practical–a woman who surmounted personal tragedy and poor health to become a popular and effective ruler.

Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen

Paperback – 25 February 2019 (US) & 29 March 2019 (UK)

Though largely unknown in the West, the seventeenth-century African queen Njinga was one of the most multifaceted rulers in history, a woman who rivaled Queen Elizabeth I in political cunning and military prowess. In this landmark book, based on nine years of research, Linda Heywood reveals how this Cleopatra of central Africa skillfully navigated―and ultimately transcended―the ruthless, male-dominated power struggles of her time.






About Moniek 1496 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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