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Waged almost six centuries ago, the Battle of Agincourt still captivates. It is the classic underdog story, and generations have wondered how the English--outmanned by the French six to one--could have succeeded so bravely and brilliantly. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Juliet Barker paints a gripping narrative of the October 1415 clash between the outnumbered English archers and the heavily armored French knights. Populated with chivalrous heroes, dastardly spies, and a ferocious and bold king, AGINCOURT is as earthshaking as its subject--and confirms Juliet Barker's status as both a historian and a storyteller of the first rank.
Barker uses newly discovered letters and manuscripts to reveal the authentic voices of the three novelist sisters detailing the siblings' self-absorbed childhood, the years of struggling to earn a living in uncongenial occupations before they took the literary world by storm.
The story of the tragic Brontë family is familiar to everyone: we all know about the half-mad, repressive father, the drunken, drug-addled wastrel of a brother, wildly romantic Emily, unrequited Anne, and "poor Charlotte. " Or do we? These stereotypes of the popular imagination are precisely that - imaginary - created by amateur biographers such as Mrs. Gaskell who were primarily novelists and were attracted by the tale of an apparently doomed family of genius. Juliet Barker''s landmark book is the first definitive history of the Brontës. It demolishes the myths, yet provides startling new information that is just as compelling - but true. Based on first-hand research among all the Brontë manuscripts, including contemporary historical documents never before used by Brontë biographers, this book is both scholarly and compulsively readable. The Brontës is a revolutionary picture of the world''s favorite literary family.
For thirty dramatic years, England ruled a great swath of France at the point of the swordâan all-but-forgotten episode in the Hundred Yearsâ War that Juliet Barker brings to vivid life in Conquest. Following Agincourt, Henry Vâs second invasion of France in 1417 launched a campaign that would place the crown of France on an English head. Buoyed by conquest, the English army seemed invincible. By the time of Henryâs premature death in 1422, nearly all of northern France lay in his hands and the Valois heir to the throne had been disinherited. Only the appearance of a visionary peasant girl who claimed divine guidance, Joan of Arc, was able to halt the English advance, but not for long. Just six months after her death, Henryâs young son was crowned in Paris as the firstâand lastâEnglish king of France. Henry VIâs kingdom endured for twenty years, but when he came of age he was not the leader his father had been. The dauphin whom Joan had crowned Charles VII would finally drive the English out of France. Barker recounts these stirring eventsâthe epic battles and sieges, plots and betrayalsâthrough a kaleidoscope of characters from John Talbot, the âEnglish Achilles,â and John, duke of Bedford, regent of France, to brutal mercenaries, opportunistic freebooters, resourceful spies, and lovers torn apart by the conflict.
The figure of William Wordsworth looms over the nineteenth century like a presiding genius. Sage, seer, and Poet Laureate, Wordsworth was revered by his Victorian contemporaries as a writer of tender, lyrical poetry, a controversial challenger of social and artistic convention, a devoted champion of country life, and the spiritual founder of the conservation movement. In this masterful work, the first biography to fully examine Wordsworth's entire life, critically acclaimed biographer Juliet Barker draws on unpublished sources to present a new picture of him as both public icon and private family man. Balancing meticulous research with engaging prose, she reveals not only the public figure who was courted and reviled in equal measure but also the complex, elusive, private citizen behind that image, vividly re-creating the intimacy of Wordsworth's domestic circle, showing the love, laughter, loyalty, and tragedies that bound them together. Wordsworth is a major biography of one of the world's foremost poets, and a rich, unforgettable portrait of a fascinating and fiercely passionate man.
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