History

Just published:

Mrs Luther

Mrs Luther and Her Sisters – Women of the Reformation*

Lion Hudson, h/b published May 2016 - ISBN 978-0-7459-5635-0 £18.99
Lion Hudson, p/b published Feb 2016 - ISBN 978-0-7459-5640-4 £9.99
ebook ISBN 978-0-7459-5793-7

The roles of women in major events often get airbrushed out of the historical record. In this book we see how women changed the course of the Reformation and how the Reformation changed the place of women in society. Read how the inspiring and moving stories of queens, martyrs, preachers, writers, patrons, teachers and others played crucial roles in the faith conflicts of this turbulent age.

Titles marked * are now available in ebook format.


Elizabethan Society
RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Elizabethan Society – High and Low Life 1558-1603*

Robinson paperback, published May 2014 – ISBN 978-1-4721-0233-1 £8.99

Amazon [here...]

Find out what life was really like in the England of Gloriana, Shakespeare and Drake. You'll be surprised!


The Plantagenets

The Plantagenets: The Kings That Made Britain*

The Plantagenets: The Kings that made Britain paperback published January 2014 ISBN 9781-78206-941-6 £9.99
Quercus, Sept 2011, ISBN 978 0 85738 004 3, £25

‘This is a very informative book about the Plantagenet kings that ruled England from 1154 - 1485. What makes it unique is the way, year by year, you are given the details about what actually happened through manuscripts, seals, paintings etc.’


The English Reformation

The English Reformation: Religion, Politics & Fear: How England Was Transformed by the Tudors*

Robinson, BHO series, p/b June 2012, ISBN 978 1 84529 646 9, £8.99
[ebook]

Derek brings the fruits of several years’ thought and passion to unravelling the complex political, religious and social issues underlying the most momentous change in British history. His is the first analytical survey of all the evidence for almost a quarter of a century. The result is the type of book his readers have come to expect – detailed, accurate and thoroughly readable.

‘Stimulating and authoritative.’John Guy

‘Masterly. [Wilson] has a deep understanding of … characters, reaching out across the centuries.’ Sunday Times


Calamities & Catastrophes

Calamities & Catastrophes: The Absolutely Worst Years in History*

Short Books, h/b Sept 2011, ISBN 978 1 907595 45 5, £12.99
[e-book]

Published by Short Books, this is Britain’s Rottenest Years gone global and catalogues in lurid detail mind-blowingly awful events from the final collapse of classical civilisation to the Rwanda massacres of 1994. Sounds grim but it does help us get our current travails into perspective.


The People’s Bible

The People’s Bible: The remarkable history of the King James Version*

Lion Hudson, h/b, October 2010, ISBN 978 0 7459 5351 9, £14.99
[e-book]

Now in paperback ISBN 978 0 7459 5559 9, £9.99

The finest scholars in England laboured for seven years to produce what we know as the King James or Authorised Version of the Bible. Yet its launch could scarcely have been less propitious. Despite its titles, the king did nothing to promote it and he certainly did not ‘authorise’ it. Its publisher went bankrupt and it was half a century before this Bible won the affection of the British people. So, how come this book became the biggest best-seller of all time and a vehicle of British culture right round the world? Derek’s latest book gives some fascinating answers. It is a story of religious factions, scholarly disputes, archival adventures, scientific challenges and intricate problems of translation from ancient languages. It is an intriguing and exciting story which tells us a lot about our language, our ethics and our way of life – even in the secularised 21st C.

...divinely well-informed, devilishly entertaining...” Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto


Tudor England

Tudor England

Shire Books, stiff covers,†April 2010, 978-0-74780-780-3

The Tudor period was a time of massive social change in England with growing cities, increasing trade, and growing stability after the chaos of the Wars of the Roses. Despite military preparations in every county, and the establishment of a new navy, the country was generally at peace, and England and Wales were becoming more closely integrated. Religious changes affected every person, with the Reformation bringing change to most corners of the country, and the dissolution of the monasteries allowing those with cash to build new estates, and removing the traditional schools and hospitals. This book offers insights into the world of Tudor England – revealing what it was really like to live in a period of great growth, and the difference between living in the city and the country.


Britain's Rottenist Years

Britain’s Rottenest Years

Short Books, h/b, October 2009, ISBN 978-1-906021-58-0, £12.99

War, terror, economic collapse... Britain has been there before. And for the likes of the Celts, or the Tudors, or the Georgians, these catastrophes were much harder to bear.

Try 1349 (the black death), or 1536 (the year the king went mad...), or 1720 (when a biblical fog descended on England for months and literally laid waste to the nation). The fact is that rat for rat, recession for recession, gory death for gory death, the ten really rotten years featured in this book beat our current travails hands down.

But Britain’s Rottenest Years is not just a bad news story. It is a fantastically readable leapfrog through British history which takes us, via the interesting bits, from the misery of the Roman invasion of AD60 (when 50,000 foreign thugs arrived on our shores) to the Thatcherite year of discontent of 1981 – the ideal gift for anyone who needs cheering up...

Wilson’s contribution ... suggests that the war, poverty and swine flu of 2009 is positively bright when compared with other terrible times in our nation’s history...this book is well-researched, with real heft.” Jean Hannah Edelstein, The Observer

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A Brief History of HENRY VIII

A Brief History of HENRY VIII – Reformer and Tyrant

Constable, p/b, February 2009, ISBN 978-1-84529-903-3, £8.99

Tyrant, reformer, exhibitionist, patriot, sexual athlete – there are lots of words used to describe one of the best known and controversial Kings of England. But what do we really know about him?

This challenging and highly accessible biography probes the inner man and reveals, beneath the jewelled and aggressive exterior an insecure ruler haunted by the memory of a successful father and by his own sexual inadequacy. This highly readable study corrects the distortions produced by television and some popular biographies.

... this masterful biography breaks new ground in its portrayal of a monarch who, perhaps, more than any other, changed the course of our history.” Choice Magazine


Peter the Great

Peter the Great

Hutchinson, h/b, February 2009, ISBN 978-0-091-79647-1, £20

There has never been a more remarkable national leader in modern history than Peter the Great (1672-1725). He was 6’7” tall, had massive willpower, enthusiasm and energy and refused to accept old conventions. He created a new city on marshland by the sea called St Petersburg and made his courtiers shave their beards and wear western dress. He destroyed Sweden, then the greatest force in northern Europe, and made Russia master of the Baltic. European leaders did not know what to make of this eccentric, unsophisticated tsar who loathed pomp and ceremony and served as a junior officer in his own army. He took a peasant girl as his own wife but married members of his family into the royal houses of Europe. Russia was profoundly changed by this extraordinary man. So was Europe.

Wilson presents the remarkable personality who oriented Russia toward the West, with lasting historical – and not completely resolved – consequences... Wilson’s portrait is a fine introduction to the man and his reign.” Gilbert Taylor, Booklist


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Francis Walsingham

Francis Walsingham – Courtier in an Age of Terror*


Constable, 27 September, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84529-138-9
[e-book]

This is a book that had to be written in order to adjust the balance of our understanding of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Walsingham was not just the 'dour Puritan' or 'Machiavellian spymaster' of legend. And Elizabeth was very far from being the 'Gloriana' of TV documentary and popular fiction. Queen and minister were both fighting a 'war on terror' and sometimes they were fighting against each other.

This rounded biography of the great Elizabethan diplomat and statesman is the first to explore fully Walsingham's religious motivation and his extraordinary relationship with the queen. It also highlights the perilous situation in which England found itself in the period 1570-1590 when unscrupulous foes at home and abroad were frantically trying to destroy the Protestant state.

Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spy master, and a great admirer of Machiavelli, is widely recognised as the Father of modern intelligence... Derek Wilson throws fresh light on this somewhat enigmatic figure, bringing the polished courtier and spymaster to vivid life.” Good Book Guide


Out of the Storm

Out of the Storm – The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther

Hutchinson, May 2007, ISBN 0099451196, Pimlico p/b, April 2008, ISBN 978-1-84413-410-6

It is 50 years since the last popular English biography of the great reformer. This new study, taking notice of all the latest research, gives a vivid, warts-an-all, word portrait of this larger-than-life figure. The book depicts his personal struggle for faith and his intimate relations with family and friends as well as his public life. Luther's challenge of papal authority and his enormous literary output (especially his German translation of the Bible) changed the whole course of Europe and world history.

Scores highly in thoroughness, clarity and human sympathy.” Sunday Telegraph


Hans Holbein - Portrait of an Unknown Man

Hans Holbein – Portrait of an Unknown Man

Weidenfeld, h/b, 1996, 0-29781-561X, Pimlico 2nd edition, p/b, Sept 2006, ISBN 1-84413-918-2

Hans Holbein the Younger is best known to us from his masterly portraits of Henry VIII and members of his court but he was so much more. He lived and worked at the epicentre of the Reformation and was influenced by its revolutionary ideas. This fresh biography traces him from his early years in Augsburg and his removal to Basel to his establishment as Henry VIII's court painter. We may 'only' know Holbein from his fabulous paintings and engravings but, if we read them aright, we see him not as an enigmatic 'unknown man' but as someone closely tied into the exciting times in which he lived.

“I cannot praise too highly Derek Wilson's prose style, which is both masterful and lively. He writes with great conviction and a breathtaking attention to the kind of personal detail that makes his books such compelling reading.” Alison Weir

“The author's detective spirit is bent on restoring details effaced by time.” Publishers Weekly


Charlemagne – Barbarian and Emperor

Charlemagne – Barbarian and Emperor

Pimlico, p/b, Aug 2006, ISBN 0-71260-217-8
Charlemagne, Doubleday USA, Sept 2006, ISBN 0-38551-670-3
Charlemagne – The Great Adventurer, Hutchinson, h/b, 0-0917-9461-7

There is little available in English about the man who was has been called the 'Father of Europe' and who has had a profound effect on the development of the Continent. From 771 to 814 Charles the Great created and ruled an empire that was the largest seen in Europe since the departure of the Romans and would only be surpassed by the empires of Charles V and Napoleon I. He established Latin Christendom, presided over what has been called the 'Carolingian Renaissance' and was solemnly crowned Emperor of the West by the Pope. Yet he could not write, led a highly irregular personal life and could be utterly ruthless. In this fresh study the author looks at the Man, the Moment and the Myth of Charlemagne, not only telling his remarkable story but explaining the impact of his legend down the centuries which inspired the Crusades, absolute monarchies, liberal politicians and the founders of the EU.

“Fast-paced biography ... Wilson deftly chronicles Charlemagne's military exploits, political intrigues, and religious devotion.” Publishers Weekly


All the King's Women

All the King's Women – Love, sex and politics in the reign of Charles II

Pimlico, p/b, June 2004, ISBN 0-7126-6802-0

A probing examination of the court of Charles II. It rejects the simplistic verdict of Charles as a lazy, selfish womaniser and reveals a man who was very ‘modern’ in his attitude towards the opposite sex. His enjoyment of and dependence on female company went far beyond the bedchamber. The book takes us right through Charles’ life and explores his crucial relations with his domineering mother, his beloved sisters, his grasping nurse, his courageous wife, the women who sustained him during his exile and those whose company he enjoyed after the Restoration. Through the pages of the book process a cavalcade of queens, princesses, courtesans, bluestockings, actresses and devoted subjects. All The King’s Women tells us as much about Stuart Britain as it does about the king.

“Interrelates the personal and political dimensions of Charles II's life with an effectiveness that few other biographers have matched”
Sunday Telegraph


Uncrowned Kings of England

Uncrowned Kings of England – The Black Legend of the Dudleys*

Constable, Jan 2005, ISBN 1-84119-902-8, Robinson, p/b, 2005, ISBN 1-84529-230-8
[e-book]

This fulfils the author's long-held ambition in charting the tumultuous saga of the Dudley family through four generations. The Dudleys were the royal dynasty England almost had. They helped to build the power of the Tudors as administrators, courtiers and generals and thrice came close to succeeding them as sovereigns. Yet three members of the family were executed for treason and the whole brood were universally unpopular. This is the first time the see-saw story of the 16th century Dudleys has been told. It makes riveting reading.

“Wilson's account of the ebbs and flows, highs and lows of the ‘Elizabeth Robert’ story is masterly ... His book is stimulating and authoritative, explaining how the Tudors and Dudleys were indeed intertwined ... Their family history is also the history of England.”
John Guy, Sunday Times


A Brief History of the Circumnavigators

A Brief History of the Circumnavigators – The pioneer voyagers who set off around the globe*

Robinson, 2003, ISBN 1-84119-709-2
[e-book]

When the author’s highly original study The Circumnavigators was first published it was acclaimed by the critics as a compelling narrative (‘Marvellous material, fluently and expertly retold’ – Daily Telegraph) and was awarded the King George’s Fund for Sailors Best Book of the Sea Award. Now revised and updated for Robinson’s ‘Brief History’ series it appears in paperback at a price affordable for all who love tales of maritime adventure.

The story begins in 1521 with the completion of the harrowing Magellan-Elcano voyage, the first circumnavigation, and ends with Joshua Slocum’s first single-handed circuit of the globe, 376 years later. A chapter on 20th century round-the-world racing brings the yarn up to date. These four and a half centuries were replete with the exploits of adventurers, explorers, colonisers, pirates, merchants and scientists who, from motives as varied as curiosity, greed, national pride, escapism and love of danger pitted themselves and their vessels against the unknown terrors of tempest, uncharted hazards, scurvy, fabled sea monsters and hostile peoples. Famous names feature prominently in the narrative – Drake, Dampier, Anson, Bougainville, Cook – but the reader will discover the dramatic exploits of lesser known men who braved the seven seas and also probed ‘the ocean within’.


In The Lion's Court

In The Lion's Court – Power, Ambition and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII

Hutchinson, h/b, 2001, ISBN 0-09180-118-4, Pimlico, p/b, 2002, ISBN 0-71266-529-3

This book tells for the first time the interlocking stories of six Thomases - Wolsey, More, Cromwell, Cranmer, Howard and Wriothesley - who served as close advisers of Henry VIII - and all suffered for it. Two were beheaded, two were disgraced and narrowly avoided execution, one was burned to death and the other probably took his own life. In the Lion's Court is a revelation of just how perilous it was to be close to England's most tyrannical king.

“Brilliant, endlessly readable... Wilson excels himself - [In the Lion's Court] is vivid, immediate history, accurate, complex, and tinged with personality.” Sunday Herald


The King and The Gentleman

The King and The Gentleman – Charles Stuart and Oliver Cromwell 1599-1649

Hutchinson, h/b, 1999, ISBN 0-09180-160-5, Pimlico, p/b, 2000, ISBN 0-71266-638-9
St Martin's Press, New York, 1999, h/b, ISBN 0-312-24405-3

Charles I and Oliver Cromwell were almost exact contemporaries. They grew up very differently and their lives slowly converged until one was responsible for the death of the other. This book offers a fresh, personalised view of the beliefs and ideas which clashed in the 17th C Revolution. It offers the reader a fast-paced and probing narrative different from theoretical treatises about the Civil War.

“[Wilson's] comparative study contributes real insights into the personalities of both men and valuably demonstrates how the labels Cavalier and Roundhead veil shared beliefs and values.” The Sunday Times

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Dark and Light - The Guinness Story

Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN 0-297-81718-3 (p/b Orion ISBN 0-752-82674-3)

The Tower of London, A Thousand Years

p/b Allison & Busby ISBN 0-749-00332-4 [Amazon link here]

The World Encompassed - Drake's Great Voyage 1577-1580

p/b Allison & Busby ISBN 0-749-00322-7 [Amazon link here]

Sweet Robin - Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester

p/b Allison & Busby ISBN 0-749-00360x [Amazon link here]

Reformation - Christianity and the World 1500-2000

In collaboration with Dr Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
Bantam, ISBN 0-593-02749-3, p/b Bantam, ISBN 0-593-04232-8

Reformation - A Radical Interpretation of Christianity and the World 1500-2000

In collaboration with Dr Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
Scribner USA, ISBN 0-684-83104x

A History of South and Central Africa

p/b, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-20559x

Rothschild - A story of wealth and power

2nd edition Andre Deutsch, ISBN 0-233-98870x,p/b, Mandarin, ISBN 0-749-31935-6

The Astors 1763-1992 - Landscape with Millionnaires

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-81261-0, (also St Martin's Press, New York, USA ISBN 0-312-09744-1)

Breakthrough: Tunneling the Channel

Century Hutchinson in association with Eurotunnel, ISBN 0-712-63983-7, p/b, Century Hutchinson, ISBN 0-712-63984-5

The Circumnavigators

Constable, ISBN 0-094-66460-9

Francis Frith's Travels

Dent, ISBN 0-460-04670-5

Extraordinary People

Pan, ISBN 0-330-28098-8

Sweet Robin - Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester

Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 0-241-10149-2

The World Atlas of Treasure

Collins ISBN 0-002-16877-4, p/b, Pan, ISBN 0-330-26450-8)

The Tower 1078-1978

Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 0-241-89935-4

A Short History of Suffolk

Batsford, ISBN 0-713-40574-0

The World Encompassed - Drake's Great Voyage 1577-1580

Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 0-241-89624x

White Gold - the story of African ivory

written in conjunction with Peter Ayerst, Heinemann, ISBN 0-434-87227X

A Tudor Tapestry - Men, Woman and Society in Reformation England

Heinemann, ISBN 0-434-87225-3 [Amazon link here]

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