#FridayReads: Get Lost in History

Brush up on history this weekend with our #FridayReads selections! These captivating tomes are so much more than your average history books… read about tales that time forgot, what life was really like in the middle ages, the lives of two women who refused to live by the conventions of their time, and the woman who could have been Henry VIII’s seventh queen. 


Forgotten History

9781445656342Not all history is recorded in secondary school text books or cast into towering monuments that shape the city skylines. Quite often the most intriguing (and most bizarre) bits are forgotten and fall away into obscurity. In this fascinating book, Jem Duducu shines light on the strange, obscure and often hilarious moments of history that would otherwise be lost forever.
Forgotten History tells in delightful detail the stories of the hard-to-believe moments, people or inventions from history. Split into four main eras – ancient, medieval, early modern and twentieth century – this light-hearted and easy-to-read fact book is full to bursting with the bits from history that even an enthusiast may otherwise have never known.
Covering a wide variety of topics, from the time a Pope put his dead predecessor on trial, to the ancient Greeks’ intriguing view on poisoned weapons, all the way up to the moment a British officer called Jack Churchill insisted on using a longbow as a weapon in World War II, take a journey through time and discover the weird and wonderful history that you didn’t learn about in school.
Purchase your copy here>>>

The Middle Ages Unlocked

9781445660219To our modern minds, the Middle Ages seem to mix the well-known and familiar with wildly alien concepts and circumstances. The Middle Ages Unlocked provides an introduction to this complex and dynamic period in England.
Exploring a wide range of topics from law, religion and education to landscape, art and magic, between the eleventh and early fourteenth century, the structures, institutions and circumstances that form the basis for daily life and society are made accessible.
Drawing on their expertise in history and archaeology, Dr Gillian Polack and Dr Katrin Kania look at the tangible aspects of daily life, ranging from the raw materials used for crafts, clothing and jewelry to housing and food, in order to bring the Middle Ages to life.
The Middle Ages Unlocked dispels modern assumptions about this period, revealing the complex tapestry of medieval England, its institutions and the people who lived there.
Purchase your copy here>>>

Living in Squares, Loving in Triangles

9781445660080The lives of the sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf have long been celebrated for their central roles in the development of modernism in art and literature. Inspired by European post-impressionism, Vanessa’s experimental work places her at the vanguard of early twentieth-century art, as does her role in helping introduce many key names – Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso – to an unsuspecting public in 1910. Virginia took these artistic innovations and applied them to literature, pushing the boundaries of form, narrative and language to find a voice uniquely her own. Yet their private lives were just as experimental. Forming the core of the Bloomsbury Group, they welcomed into their London and Sussex homes a host of their talented peers and followed their hearts in the pursuit of love.
Vanessa’s marriage to art critic Clive Bell was shaken early on by his flirtation with her sister, but this allowed her to find happiness with fellow artist Roger Fry. It was the predominantly homosexual Duncan Grant, though, who would become her lifelong partner, as they shared and decorated their home, Charleston, making it a living showpiece for their art. Virginia’s marriage to Leonard Woolf placed him more in the role of carer than husband, with the pair abstaining from sex and living under a regime designed to meet the needs of Virginia’s fragile mental health. Her meeting with the aristocratic Vita Sackville-West and their lesbian affair led Virginia to write one of the masterpieces of modern literature. What led the sisters to make such choices? How did they reconcile life and art? How did it feel, in early modern Britain, to live outside the social box? The sisters lived bravely, passionately and innovatively; where did this strength and talent come from?
Purchase your copy here>>>

Henry VIII’s Last Love

9781445660073In 1533 Katherine Willoughby married Charles Brandon, Henry VIII’s closest friend. She would go on to serve at the court of every Tudor monarch bar Henry VII and Mary Tudor. Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen, she became a powerful woman ruling over her houses at Grimsthorpe and Tattershall in Lincolnshire and wielding subtle influence through her proximity to the king.
She grew to know Henry well and in 1538, only three months after Jane Seymour’s death, it was reported that they had been ‘masking and visiting’ together. In 1543 she became a lady-in-waiting to his sixth wife Catherine Parr. Henry had a reputation for tiring of his wives once the excitement of the pursuit was over, and in February 1546, only six months after Charles Brandon’s death, it was rumoured that Henry intended to wed Katherine himself if he could end his present marriage. But Henry changed his mind at the last moment, and Katherine Willoughby never became his seventh queen.
Hers was a life of privilege mixed with tragedy and danger, losing both her sons to illness and being forced into exile in Poland beyond ‘Bloody’ Mary’s clutches. But Katherine kept her head on her shoulders when many of her contemporaries lost theirs for lesser reasons.
Purchase your copy here>>>

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