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Ladies in Waiting: a history of court life from the Tudors to the present day

Anne Somerset

8 Reviews

Rated 0


An illuminating commentary on court life from the Tudors to the present day.

'Provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life' New York Times

'Naughty Knickers version of our island story' Daily Mail

Ladies in Waiting chronicles the lives of famous and infamous ladies who served royalty, casting a fresh, intimate angle on four hundred years of monarchy.

For centuries, the most beautiful, able and aristocratic women in England competed for positions at court. Some who came to serve were remarkable for their learning and exemplary virtue, but others were notable for promiscuity and lack of scruple, drawn to court by a lust for money and power. Several ladies-in-waiting became royal mistresses, showing few qualms about betraying the queen consorts they ostensibly served. If bedding the King was not an option open to all, many ladies came to court in hope of finding husbands, only to succumb to constant assaults on their virtue or to find themselves denied permission by their sovereign to marry.

Drawing on an enormous variety of sources, Anne Somerset provides an illuminating guide to the character, profligate or pious, of each court.

Contained within the stories of the individual women is a consistently entertaining commentary on the manners, morals and shifting mentality of the royal, the rich, and the prominent throughout the centuries, resulting in social history at its most enjoyable and vibrant.

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Praise for Ladies in Waiting: a history of court life from the Tudors to the present day

  • Anne Somerset's gossipy Ladies in Waiting provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II - New York Times

  • Extraordinarily enjoyable... Colourful and entertaining...A Naughty Knickers version of our island story - Daily Mail

  • A pleasing account of the upper-class ladies who slaved, suffered and starved in royal service - Sunday Times

  • An extremely informative and well-documented study that... because it is full of odd episodes and graphic portraits, will make admirable bedside reading - Sunday Telegraph

  • Lady Anne writes with perception, wit, candour and a confident authority - The Spectator

  • Well-written, well-researched and well-produced - Books and Bookmen

  • From four centuries of courtly life and love, Anne Somerset has compiled a sparkling history, lucidly written and of impeccable scholarship - Country Life

  • This delightful history of the distaff royal household is a perfect English set piece....This author has earned a lifetime post as a Lady of the Pen who can evoke the whisper of ruffled skirts on stone stairs and legendary candlelit faces through mullioned windows - Philadelphia Inquirer

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Anne Somerset

Anne Somerset read history at King's College London. In 1980, her first book, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM IV, was published in W&N's KINGS AND QUEENS OF ENGLAND series. This was followed BY LADIES-IN-WAITING; a biography of Elizabeth I; UNNATURAL MURDER and THE AFFAIR OF THE POISONS. Her biography of Queen Anne was awarded the 2013 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. Until his death in 2011, Anne Somerset was married to the artist Matthew Carr. She lives in London.

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