A Brief Life of the Queen is a succinct, personal and beautifully illustrated biography of Elizabeth II, who has managed to remain an enigma, despite being the most recognised woman in the world. For more than thirty years Robert Lacey has been gathering material from the members of the Queen’s inner circle – her friends, relatives, private secretaries and prime ministers – and the results are distilled in this elegant hardback which marks the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Tracing her life through its major stages, and uncovering her greatest personal loves and trials, A Brief Life of the Queen offers the freshness of the first-hand insights and compelling storytelling for which Robert Lacey’s best-selling biographies are renowned.
In the long run, we’re all dead. But for some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure. The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated and even filed away in a lawyer’s office. Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs and nether regions have embarked on voyages that criss-cross the globe and stretch the imagination.
Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincoln’s corpse. Einstein’s brain went on a cross-country road trip. And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandy – which they drank. From Mozart to Hitler, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses and traces the evolution of cultural attitudes towards death.
The story of poison is the story of power…
For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.
Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with lead. Men rubbed feces on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don’t see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.
The Royal Art of Poison is a hugely entertaining work of popular history that traces the use of poison as a political – and cosmetic – tool in the royal courts of Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the Kremlin today.
Four hundred years ago, every barrister had to dance because dancing put them in harmony with the universe. John Ogilby’s first job, in 1612, was to teach them. By the 1670s, he was Charles II’s Royal Cosmographer, creating beautiful measured drawings that placed roads on maps for the first time. During the intervening years, Ogilby had travelled through fire and plague, war and shipwreck; had been an impresario in Dublin, a poet in London, a soldier and sea captain, as well as a secret agent, publisher and scientific geographer. The world of his youth had been blown up and turned upside down. Beset by danger, he carefully concealed his biography in codes and cyphers, which meant that the truth about his life has remained unknown… until today.
In this enlightening book, Alan Ereira brings a fascinating hidden history to light, and reveals that Ogilby’s celebrated Britannia is far more than a harmless road atlas: it is, rather, filled with secrets designed to serve a conspiracy of kings and England’s undoing. The Nine Lives of John Ogilby is the story of a remarkable man, and of a covert journey which gave birth to the modern world.