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Unnatural Murder: Poison In The Court Of James I

Anne Somerset

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Prose: non-fiction, British & Irish history, Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700

Royal scandal, set against the background of the Jacobean court, involving love, bribery, poison, treachery and black magic - 'a hugely enjoyable book' Daily Telegraph

'A gripping detective story ... Wonderfully dramatic ... Probably the juiciest court scandal of the past 500 years' Daily Mail

In the autumn of 1615 the Earl and Countess of Somerset were detained on suspicion of having murdered Sir Thomas Overbury. The arrest of these leading court figures created a sensation. The young and beautiful Countess of Somerset had already achieved notoriety when she divorced her first husband in controversial circumstances. The Earl of Somerset was one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom, having risen to prominence as the male 'favourite' of James I.

In a vivid, enthralling narrative, Anne Somerset unravels these extraordinary events. It is, at once, a story rich in passion, intrigue and corruption and a murder mystery - for, despite the guilty verdicts, there is much about Overbury's death that remains enigmatic. The Overbury murder case profoundly damaged the monarchy, and constituted the greatest court scandal in English history.

'This is a book about murder, witchcraft, adultery, lechery, intrigue and chicanery among the country's most powerful nobility' Time Out

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Praise for Unnatural Murder: Poison In The Court Of James I

  • A gripping detective story that tells us more about the corruption, debauchery and naked power-plays of seventeenth-century life than anything I have read - Daily Mail

  • Anne Somerset gives us scandal in high places, as well as insights into a seamy underworld of quacks and witches, hustlers and go-betweens ... Both history and whodunnit, this is a hugely enjoyable book - Daily Telegraph

  • This is by far the most comprehensive account I have read of the Overbury scandal, combining a firm mastery of complex sources with a narrative drive that impels the reader to turn the page. It is also quite one the best historical whodunnits - SUNDAY TIMES

  • A sordid yet fascinating story which Anne Somerset delineates with great skill - THE TIMES

  • Anne Somerset shows skill and stamina in telling her lurid tale....This book consolidates her position in the front rank of historical biographers for the general reader - COUNTRY LIFE

  • This marvellous account of a real-life episode in 1615 bristles with ingredients Webster would have recognised and loved - DAILY TELGRAPH

  • Deals in a scholarly but ever readable way with a fascinating historical nugget. This is a book about murder, witchcraft, adultery, lechery, intrigue and chicanery among the country's most powerful nobility - TIME OUT

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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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