Jennifer Worth came from a sheltered background when she became a midwife in the Docklands in the 1950s. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying, not only because of their grimly impoverished surroundings, but also because of what they were expected to endure. But while Jennifer witnessed brutality and tragedy, she also met with amazing kindness and understanding, tempered by a great deal of Cockney humour. She also earned the confidences of some whose lives were truly stranger, more poignant and more terrifying than could ever be recounted in fiction. Attached to an order of nuns who had been working in the slums since the 1870s, Jennifer tells the story not only of the women she treated, but also of the community of nuns (including one who was accused of stealing jewels from Hatton Garden) and the camaraderie of the midwives with whom she trained. Funny, disturbing and incredibly moving, Jennifer’s stories bring to life the colourful world of the East End in the 1950s.
March 19, 2013
Michael Morpurgo is a national treasure – a former Children’s Laureate whose beautifully written stories have enchanted a whole generation of children (and adults), weaving stories for them in a way that is neither contrived nor condescending. His best-selling novel, ‘War Horse’, the story of a Devon horse sent to fight on the Western Front, was made into a successful film by Steven Spielberg and in 2007, it was adapted for the stage by the National Theatre. Today, five years on, it continues to play to packed audiences of all ages across the globe.
January 29, 2013
From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved Mum and Dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, the journey that Jackie Kay undertakes in Red Dust Road is full of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions.
December 23, 2012
John Scott Haldane, an indomitable Victorian, endured the most startling environments of his age. As miners died in pursuit of coal, this Scottish aristocrat with the family motto ‘Suffer’ gulped down cocktails of toxic gas to learn what poisoned them. Striding through the inferno of underground disasters, it was he who introduced canaries to mines as a way of testing the toxicity of air. A non-swimmer, he jumped overboard in a full diving suit to solve the problem of ‘the bends’. And as German scientists released poison gas into the trenches of the First World War, Haldane breathed mixtures of deadly substances to learn what the enemy was using so as to devise the first gas mask. Suffer and Survive: The Extreme Life of J. S. Haldane is a portrait of a remarkable family as well as of the remarkable man at its head. Fascinating and thought-provoking, it shows the fingerprints of John Scott Haldane all over the twenty-first century, and reminds us of the extraordinary sacrifices that have been made in the cause of science.
December 22, 2012
A study of Britain’s first investigative journalist, this book by Will Sydney Robinson traces the rise and fall of W. T. Stead, from his childhood as the son of a strict Nonconformist minister in Newcastle, to his rapid rise to editor of the fledgling Northern Echo in Darlington at the age of 22, his subsequent Machiavellian career as an influential investigative journalist, and his last years when he was ridiculed for his devotion to the occult. Stead’s campaigns, all conducted with his trademark invincible and irrepressible zeal, are vividly described, ranging from his attempt to eradicate the corruption of the child sex business in London, to the reform of London slums, to denouncing an ex-slave trader who claimed to be the Messiah. Continue…
June 4, 2012
Popular TV Presenter and author Alan Titchmarsh celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in this new biography ‘Elizabeth: Her Life, Our Times: A Jubilee Celebration.
On 2nd June 1953, 27 year old Princess Elizabeth of York was crowned Queen of England and dedicated herself to her country. It is fascinating to look back over the 60 years since then and see how this remarkable woman has, decade by decade, brought the monarchy into the modern world, earning admiration and respect for her unerring sense of duty, her determination to innovate and her tremendous integrity, dignity and wisdom. Continue…
May 31, 2012
‘Magician of the North’ is the gripping, true-life story of a man who has a claim on the title ‘inventor of modern living’. Born to a merchant’s clerk and a coal-owner’s daughter in Georgian Newcastle upon Tyne, and with little formal education, William Armstrong rose through the ranks of British society to become – by the magic of science – one of the richest and most influential men in Europe.
May 30, 2012
LISA NIEMI and PATRICK SWAYZE were married for thirty-four years. They first met as teenagers at his mother’s dance studio—he was older and just a bit cocky; she was the beautiful waif who refused to worship the ground he walked on. Through the years their marriage strained under the pressures that many do, but it was always a uniquely passionate and creative partnership.
January 2, 2012
“This Is a Call,” the first in-depth, definitive biography of Dave Grohl, tells the epic story of a singular career that includes Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Them Crooked Vultures.
December 11, 2011
A new biography was released: Van Gogh, The life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. It’s the product of ten years of research and writing.
The authors studied all the available documents relating to Van Gogh, as well as the relevant literature and archives. They also frequently consulted with Van Gogh specialists around the world. As a leading centre of expertise, the Van Gogh Museum made a major contribution to this project. Furthermore, two of its staff members provided comments on the first draft of the manuscript.
December 11, 2011
As Leo Tolstoy’s wife, Sophia Tolstoy experienced both glory and condemnation during their forty-eight-year marriage. She was admired as the muse and literary assistant to one of the world’s most celebrated novelists. But when in later years Tolstoy became a towering public figure and founded a new brand of religion, she was scorned for her disagreements with him. And it is this version of Sophia—malicious, shrill, perennially at war with Tolstoy—that has gone down in the historical record.
December 11, 2011
It’s the greatest story never told: that of a boy who met Jesus and dared to ask Him all the questions that have consumed mankind since the dawn of time.
His name was Segatashya. He was a shepherd born into a penniless and illiterate pagan family in the most remote region of Rwanda. He never attended school, never saw a bible, and never set foot in a church. Then one summer day in 1982 while the 15-year-old was resting beneath a shade tree, Jesus Christ paid him a visit. Jesus asked the startled young man if he’d be willing to go on a mission to remind mankind how to live a life that leads to heaven.
December 11, 2011
I like the Memoro Project. The Bank of Memories is a not-for-profit project available as an online archive in which the stories of memories and experiences of people born before 1950 are collected, classified and shared on the web through short videos and audio interviews.
December 4, 2011