New non-fiction: Vaughan Williams by Keith Alldritt

9780719809378Vaughan Williams

This ground-breaking biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams reveals more than any other the man behind the music.

The author examines the considerable range of Vaughan Williams’s work, from the English pastoral tradition to Modernism, and shows how Vaughan Williams was influenced by the Boer War, the economic depression after the First World War, the deprivations of the Blitz, and the austerity of the Cold War. He also reveals how the greatest influence on Vaughan Williams’s music and creative development was his personal life, involving his seemingly secure marriage and an equally enduring love affair. The author shows how these reflected both the stability and cutting-edge aspects of his music.

Like a great symphony, this book ranges from doubt to inspiration. It is the most complete biography of one of Britain’s greatest composers.

Keith Alldritt was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He has taught at universities in Europe and North America. His books include studies of Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Orwell, W.D. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, and the music of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Buy your copy of Vaughan Williams here.

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New non-fiction: Wealth or Poverty: Jane Austen’s Novels Explored by Stephen Mahony

9780719814396Wealth or Poverty: Jane Austen’s Novels Explored

Money is significant in Jane Austen’s novels. Her characters worry about it, scheme for it and, of course, spend it. Money is not simply a way of placing people: it propels plots, adds drama and tells us much about an individual’s nature and morals.

Taking the novels as his starting point, Stephen Mahony looks at the wealth and social standing of Austen’s characters in relation to the economic background of the day, giving us real insight into their aspirations and motivations. What did a servant earn? Just how poor was Miss Bates? What were the pay and conditions of a midshipman like William Price? What would it cost to house, clothe and feed the entire Bennet family? And how much would Elizabeth Bennet need to live comfortably if she hadn’t married Darcy?

The result is a revealing account of Austen, her characters and the England in which they lived.

Stephen Mahony read Modern History at Oxford before a thirty-year career in finance.  Besides writing six books on financial subjects, he has written for the newsletter of the Jane Austen Society (UK) and for Regency World magazine. He lives in Dorset.

Buy your copy of Wealth or Poverty: Jane Austen’s Novels Explored here.

New non fiction: English Cathedrals by Andrew Sanders

9780719816598English Cathedrals

England is blessed with many beautiful cathedrals, including the world-renowned Durham, with its geometrically carved pillars, Wells, with its astonishingly graceful scissor arch, and  the gloriously uplifting Ely and its octagonal tower. For a millennia and more, these and similar buildings have welcomed and inspired generations of believers with their beauty and grandeur.

This book is a highly readable account of the history of England’s  cathedrals, from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. The author discusses their significance, from a time when faith was an integral part of everyday life to the present, more secular society. The author also discusses the developments in cathedral architecture  over the centuries and the English cathedral city.

The English Cathedrals is an accessible and handy guide to the greatest architectural and religious buildings in England.

Andrew Sanders is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Durham. His books include The Victorian Historical Novel (1978), Charles Dickens: Resurrectionist (1982), Dickens and the Spirit of the Age (1999), and The Short Oxford History of English Literature (1994). In 2011 Robert Hale Ltd published Andrew Sanders’ book Charles Dickens’s London.

Buy your copy of English Cathedrals here.

New fiction titles

9780719818004Deadly Zeal by Jean Chapman

Ex-Met Inspector John Cannon and his partner Liz have a hectic life running a Lincolnshire pub. When a punter is murdered after a particularly raucous quiz night, a wealthy businessman is driven to seek Cannon’s help. Their life is turned upside down, and they embark on a precarious sea voyage to the frozen wastelands of northern Norway where they must evade the murderers and icy waters.

Jean Chapman began her writing career as a freelance journalist before going on to write fiction. Her books have been shortlisted for both the Scottish Book Trust Award and the RNA Major Award, and she is the three-time President of the Leicester Writer’s Club. Her previous books, including Both Sides of the Fence, A Watery Grave, and Deadly Serious, were all published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Deadly Zeal here.

Kicking Over the Traces by Elizabeth Jackson9780719817588

When her mother dies in a wagon accident, Florence is left at the mercy of her mother’s husband. At the funeral, he reveals he is not her real father and abandons her. Left with nothing but the clothes she stands in and her mother’s red coat, Florence takes on farm work to make ends meet, but her fortunes change when she discovers money hidden in the coat’s lining. As she navigates across the North Yorkshire moors alone after being forced to leave the farm she had called home, Florence encounters friends and enemies, often disguised as each other.

Elizabeth Jackson is a writer and psychotherapist. She is married with two sons and has lived in North Yorkshire all her life. Her previous book Language of Thieves was published by Robert Hale in 2011.

Buy your copy of Kicking Over the Traces here.

9780719816000Living Dangerously by Dan Latus

When old friends Anne and Josh Steele ask Frank Doy to look after their son, Tom, Frank can’t say no. After a drink-driving incident that took the life of his friend, the victim’s gangster father wants Tom dead. Frank takes Tom to an isolated cottage in wintry Northumberland, but trouble follows. As the lonely village is held siege during a blizzard, Frank fights to keep his charge alive. In the process he unravels a story at odds with the Steeles’ version of events – of a business partnership turned sour, and a young man placed in jeopardy by family loyalty.

Dan Latus lives in Northumberland with his wife. He grew up in Teesside which has been the inspiration for many of his novels. His previous books include Never Look Back, Risky Mission, Out of the Night, and Death at South Gare.

Buy your copy of Living Dangerously here.

The Murder List by Roger Silverwood

The women of Bromersley live in fear that their names are on the murder list. Bodies keep turning up – women in their sixties, always in the same disturbing pose, with a cauliflower in their laps and rice in their mouths. Inspector Angel discovers a list with the murdered women’s names on, but clues and forensics lead nowhere, and although witnesses report an odd-looking woman wearing a sheepskin coat, no one can find her.
Then, in the middle of the night, Angel receives a phone call…

Son of a Yorkshire businessman, Roger Silverwood was educated in Gloucestershire before National Service. He later worked in the toy trade and as a copywriter in an advertising agency. Roger went into business with his wife as an antiques dealer before retiring in 1997.

Praise for the author

‘Solid plotting, unpretentious writing, thoroughly reliable entertainment’ – Morning Star

‘Silverwood combines a classic mystery plot with well-developed characters’ – Publishers Weekly

Buy your copy of The Murder List here.

The Winding Stair by Millie Vigor

A single red rose on her doorstep and anonymous calls have made Ginny a nervous wreck. Seeking peace and telling no one, she runs away, but a rose is delivered to the hideaway. She’s at breaking point when suddenly contact stops. Returning home, she befriends quiet librarian Curtis, but realizes too late that her trust is misplaced. At Curtis’s mercy, she’s reminded of the poem ‘The Spider and the Fly’. She has walked up the winding stair, but will she walk free, or will she perish like the fly?

Millie Vigor was born in Dorset and was educated at Ludwell village school. At fourteen she left to start work and she considers this the beginning of her real education. Throughout her many jobs; kitchenmaid, farm-worker, glove-maker, canteen cook and B&B landlady, she took note of what made people tick and of sights and sounds, and stored this all away to use in her writing. In addition to articles and short stories sold to various magazines, her autobiographical book Kippers for Breakfast was published in 2003. Her recent books No Skylarks Sing and Paying Davy Jones were published by Robert Hale. She lives in Taunton, Somerset with her constant companion, a cat called Harriet.

Praise for the author

‘If the definition of a good book is being well-written, easy to read and hard to put down then Catherine of Deepdale is very good indeed’ – Shetland Times

‘The author evokes the wild, desolate landscape of the islands so vividly that it made me want to visit’ – Historical Novels Review

Buy your copy of The Winding Stair here.

New non-fiction: Smithfield: Past, Present and Future by Alec Forshaw

9780719816581Smithfield: Past, Present and Future

Famed throughout the world for its meat market, the Smithfield area of London has a long and turbulent history. Originally a ‘smooth field’ lying just beyond the City wall, over the years Smithfield has seen riots, public executions and healing. From medieval times it became a centre of industry where tanners, slaughterers, glue-makers and dyers assembled. Largely untouched by either the Great Fire of 1666 or the 1940s Blitz, its streets preserve some of London’s most ancient institutions.

In Smithfield: Past and Present, over one hundred illustrations and photographs trace the development of the area from Roman times to the present. The book records the growth of the notorious cattle market, the gaiety of the Bartholomew Fair, the history of the palace of the Bishops of Ely, medieval tournaments, crime and punishment, and the bawdy life of Cock Lane, one of London’s earliest ‘red-light’ districts.

Written by an architect and former town planner, this third edition looks at the people, history and buildings in this vibrant part of London, and considers the inevitable impact of Crossrail.

Alec Forshaw has always been interested by buildings and places. His fascination for the history and character of London life has led to him writing a number of books on the subject. As a former Conservation Officer for the Borough of Islington, he is especially well qualified to produce this third edition of Smithfield: Past and Present.

Buy your copy of Smithfield: Past, Present and Future here.

New non-fiction: The Origins of English Surnames by Joslin Fiennes

9780719816529The Origins of English Surnames

Surnames carry the history of people in a very personal way. In England surnames were mostly established by the end of the fourteenth century – by ordinary people, for ordinary people. Uniquely, surnames describe medieval lives not captured by any other record. They tell us what these people did, where they went, what they noticed and give clues about their culture and memories.

This book examines the origins of English surnames, looking at: occupational names, locational names, or names that record places, nicknames  and personal names, names from the Continent and symbolic names.

Where genealogists and etymologists focus on single names, this book takes groups of names and explores what these say about the society that created them.

In The Origins of English Surnames you will find the English people at a key moment in history, revealing the way they spoke, the jokes they made,  and their memories of ancient cultures – all at a time when land-based feudalism was crumbling and people sought better lives.

Joslin Fiennes has an academic background in languages and economics, both of which inspired the idea of this book. She worked initially as a freelance writer in Africa before moving to the United States and becoming an economist, working on countries in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Since returning to the UK, Joslin has been a magistrate and school governor.

Buy your copy of The Origins of English Surnames here.

New non-fiction: The British Wildlife Year by Dominic Couzens

9780719811852The British Wildlife Year

In this unique book Dominic Couzens provides a precise record of what happens in the natural world in Britain for each week of the year.

What sets this book apart from other wildlife books is that it includes individual ‘diaries’ for all the common animals, from foxes, badgers and hedgehogs to blue tits and honey bees.

The book also covers aquatic life, from stickleback spawn to salmon, as well as plants, including the best time to pick blackberries. The author includes monthly highlights of what to look out for and where, including where to see the best wildlife events and displays.

From the best time to view the flowering of a bluebell wood to understanding the secretive ‘flower dance’ of bees, the book illustrates and explains the natural world around us. With tips and suggestions on places to visit and activities to take part in, this is an engaging book for all wildlife enthusiasts.

The British Wildlife Year is as absorbing and surprising as the wildlife that it describes.

Dominic Couzens is one of Britain’s best known writers on birds and wildlife. He has produced numerous books, including The Secret Lives of Garden Birds, Extreme Birds, The Secret Lives of Garden Wildlife and the travel memoir My Family and 50 Other Animals. His last book for Robert Hale was A Patch Made in Heaven (2012). He has often been involved in television programmes both as a consultant and on-screen, including BBC Autumnwatch, Snowwatch and The Animals’ Guide to Britain.

Buy your copy of The British Wildlife Year here.

New non-fiction: Mario Lanza: A Life in Pictures by Derek Mannering

9780719817991Mario Lanza: A Life in Pictures

Mario Lanza: A Life in Pictures is a stunning collection of photographs and illustrations that captures the fabulous and tumultuous times of the greatest romantic tenor of the twentieth century.

Compiled by acclaimed Lanza biographer Derek Mannering and drawing on exclusive photographs from the tenor’s closest friend, Terry Robinson, the book offers an unrivalled pictorial history of the tenor’s extraordinary life and career, from his childhood in Philadelphia, his first tentative steps towards a career in opera, the unexpected about-turn that led to his glory days in Hollywood, and on to his sudden and tragic death in Rome in 1959.

Complementing the rare photographs is Derek Mannering’s authoritative and compelling narrative together with personal comments by Terry Robinson throughout. The book concludes with an afterword by Mario Lanza’s daughter, Ellisa Lanza Bregman.

Few careers in show business have been as colourful or as controversial as Mario Lanza’s. Groomed for a professional life on the operatic stage, Lanza was instead waylaid by Hollywood where, in films like The Great Caruso, he thrilled movie-goers with his magnificent voice and dazzling personality. His films and recordings were highly influential in shaping the careers of countless young opera singers and to this day Lanza continues to be seen as the crossover artist supreme.

Derek Mannering was born in Dublin, Ireland, and currently lives in the USA. He is the author of Mario Lanza: Singing to the Gods, also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Mario Lanza: A Life in Pictures here.

Ivory by Maggie Campbell Pedersen

Ivory

Ivory has been held in the highest esteem for millennia. This comprehensive and authoritative study of this beautiful and versatile material provides a global history of ivory worldwide – from the myths and beliefs held by prehistoric man, through its utilitarian uses in the Arctic and the beautiful carvings in medieval Europe, to its links with war, the slave trade, and religion.
Covering in detail its composition and unique properties, its sources in the animal kingdom and their conservation status, the book demonstrates how ageing and the different types of ivory and its imitations can be tested for and identified with confidence.
Ivory also explores how it has been worked by craftsmen and used over the years, from carving and marquetry to the manufacture of black paint, as well as the methods employed. Sound advice and useful tips are provided on caring for ivory, with examples, covering specific areas, including stains, scratches, cracks, cleaning and repair.
Lavishly illustrated throughout with colour photographs, Ivory is an invaluable guide for collectors, antique dealers, curators, gemmologists, conservationists and frequenters of flea markets, as well as those who simply love this attractive material.

Maggie Campbell Pedersen is a qualified gemmologist specializing in organic gem materials. Her work includes identifications, teaching, writing, and constant research into all aspects of the subject.
Maggie is an accredited lecturer for NADFAS (the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) and a regular contributor to Gems and Jewellery, the journal of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. She is the author of the book Gem and Ornamental Materials of Organic Origin (Robert Hale, 2004) and the editor of Organic Gems, an online reference source and information centre.
Maggie is also a qualified commercial/industrial photographer, and through her love of animals has worked in many places, assisting in conservation, studying elephants, cheetahs and a variety of other animals.

Buy your copy of Ivory here

New non-fiction: The Noble Art of Heavyweight Boxing

The Noble Art of Heavyweight Boxing by Ralph Oates

9780719817434The Noble Art of Heavyweight Boxing is a knockout trip through the history of this popular sport, from the last thrilling bareknuckle contest in 1889 between champion John L. Sullivan and challenger Jake Kilrain, right through to modern times, covering key fights and boxing greats such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, and many, many more.

Illustrated with contemporary photographs and packed with fascinating true details about the personalities and bouts, this book will be a winner with every sports fan and boxing enthusiast.

Ralph Oates is a former amateur boxer and a renowned boxing historian. He has acted as a boxing consultant for the Guinness World Records. Ralph has also had eight previous books on the sport published, along with articles for The British Boxing Board of Control Yearbook and his own column in the Essex Courier.

Buy your copy of The Noble Art of Heavyweight Boxing here