Miss Muriel Matters
In 1908 Muriel Matters, known as ‘that daring Australian girl’, chained herself to an iron grille in the House of Commons to demand votes for women, thus becoming the first woman to make a speech in the House. The following year she made headlines around the world when she took to the sky over the Houses of Parliament in an airship emblazoned with ‘Votes for Women’.
A trailblazer in the suffrage movement, Muriel toured England in a horse-drawn caravan to promote the cause. But feminism was just one of her passions: Muriel’s zeal for social change also saw her run for Parliament, campaign for prison reform, promote Maria Montessori’s teaching methods and defend the poor. In this inspiring and long-overdue biography, bestselling author Robert Wainwright introduces us to an intelligent, spirited and brave woman who fought tirelessly for others in a world far from equal.
The thrilling and previously untold true story of Suzanne Spaak, who abandoned her life of opulence to save the Jewish children of Occupied Paris during the Second World War.
Suzanne Spaak was born into an affluent Belgian Catholic family and married into the country’s leading political dynasty. Her brother-in-law was the prime minister while her husband Claude was a playwright and patron of the painter René Magritte. In occupied Paris she was part of the cultural elite and a neighbour of Colette and Jean Cocteau. But Suzanne was living a double life.
Her friendship with a Polish Jewish refugee led her to her life’s purpose. When France fell and the Nazis occupied Paris, she joined the Resistance. She used her fortune and social status to enlist allies among wealthy Parisians and church groups. Under the eyes of the Gestapo, Suzanne and women from the Jewish and Christian resistance groups ‘kidnapped’ hundreds of Jewish children to save them from the gas chambers.
Codename Suzette is a masterpiece of research and narrative, bringing to life a truly remarkable woman and painting a vivid and unforgettable picture of wartime Paris.
Anzac and Aviator
In November 1919, a year after the Great War, four Australian servicemen made a unique and epoch-making journey home. In the open cockpit of a twin-engine Vickers Vimy bi-plane, brothers Ross and Keith Smith and mechanics Wally Shiers and Jim completed the 18,000-kilometre flight from Britain to Australia. The 28-day journey, part of a competition sponsored by the Australian government, made the Smith brothers internationally famous and marked Australia’s emergence into the air age. Ross Smith’s fame would be short-lived: he would be killed in an air accident less than three years later on the eve of an attempt to make the first ever circumnavigation of the world by air.
Born on a South Australian cattle station, Smith had a relatively privileged and cosmopolitan upbringing. He was, nonetheless, working in a warehouse in Adelaide in 1914, where he would have no doubt eked out a quiet and unremarkable life were it not for the war’s outbreak. Enlisting in the light horse at 22 years of age, Smith survived arduous campaigns at Gallipoli and in the Sinai Desert before volunteering for the Australian Flying Corps. Smith’s feats in the skies above Palestine during 1917-18 earned him a reputation as one of the great fighter pilots of the war. By the armistice he had received the Military Cross twice and the Distinguished Flying Cross three times; he was one of only three British Empire airmen to do so during the war. Smith’s skill in the cockpit also saw him assigned the Middle East theatre’s only twin-engine bomber during the war’s final year, a machine he used to support T. E. Lawrence ‘of Arabia’s’ campaign against the Turks in Jordan and, after the war, survey an air-route between Cairo and Calcutta.
Anzac and Aviator is the story of this extraordinary Australian and the fascinating era in which he lived, one in which aviation emerged with bewildering speed to comprehensively transform both warfare and transportation. Born a decade before powered flight and going off to war on horseback, Smith finished the conflict in command of a bomber, the weapon that would come to symbolise the totality of warfare in the twentieth century.
Chosen as a Book of the Year in The Times and the Daily Mail
‘Highly entertaining’ Sunday Times
‘Enthralling’ Daily Telegraph
For more than six decades, Queen Victoria ruled a great Empire at the height of its power. Beside her for more than twenty of those years was the love of her life, her trusted husband and father of their nine children, Prince Albert. But while Victoria is seen as the embodiment of her time, it was Prince Albert, A. N. Wilson expertly argues, who was at the vanguard of Victorian Britain’s transformation as a vibrant and extraordinary centre of political, technological, scientific and intellectual advancement. A composer, engineer, soldier, politician, linguist and bibliophile, Prince Albert, more than any other royal, was truly a ‘genius’.
Enid Lindeman stopped traffic in Manhattan, silenced gamblers in Monte Carlo and walked her pet cheetah through Hyde Park on a diamond collar. In early twentieth-century society, where women were expected to be demure and obedient, she gallivanted through life accumulating four husbands and numerous lovers, her high-jinks fascinating British gossip columnists during the inter-war years.
She drove an ambulance in World War I and hid escaped Allied airmen behind enemy lines in World War II, played bridge with Somerset Maugham and entertained Hollywood royalty in the world’s most expensive private home on the Riviera, allegedly won in a game of cards. Enid bedazzled men with her beauty, outlived four husbands – two shipping magnates, a war hero and a larger-than-life Irish Earl – spent two great fortunes and earned the nickname ‘Lady Killmore’. From Sydney to New York, London to Paris and Cairo to Kenya, Robert Wainwright’s biography restores the remarkable Enid to thrilling, vivid life.
Elizabeth and Elizabeth
‘I’ve waited for this moment so long, dreamed of it, prepared for it, I can barely believe it’s finally here. But it is. And it is nothing like I expected.’
There was a short time in Australia’s European history when two women wielded extraordinary power and influence behind the scenes of the fledgling colony.
One was Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of the new governor Lachlan Macquarie, nudging him towards social reform and magnificent buildings and town planning. The other was Elizabeth Macarthur, credited with creating Australia’s wool industry and married to John Macarthur, a dangerous enemy of the establishment.
These women came from strikingly different backgrounds with husbands who held sharply conflicting views. They should have been bitter foes. Elizabeth & Elizabeth is about two courageous women thrown together in impossible times.
Borne out of an overriding admiration for the women of early colonial Australian history, Sue Williams has written a novel of enduring fascination.
‘An extraordinary story of female leadership at a time when such a quality was frowned on, and female friendship forged against the odds. Sue Williams’ Elizabeth & Elizabeth brings us a nuanced and vivid portrait of the early days of colonisation. More importantly, it delivers a fascinating look into the relationship between two remarkable women.’ – Meg Keneally, bestselling author of The Wreck
A fascinating biography of Patton, Montgomery and Rommel which reveals how these three unique personalities rose to the highest ranks.
Soraya was a schoolgirl in the coastal town of Sirte, when she was given the honour of presenting a bouquet of flowers to Colonel Gaddafi, “the Guide,” on a visit he was making the following week. This one meeting – a presentation of flowers, a pat on the head from Gaddafi – changed Soraya’s life forever. Soon afterwards, she was summoned to Bab al-Azizia, Gaddafi’s palatial compound near Tripoli, where she joined a number of young women who were violently abused, raped and degraded by Gaddafi. Heartwrenchingly tragic but ultimately redemptive, Soraya’s story is the first of many that are just now beginning to be heard.
In Gaddafi’s Harem, Le Monde special correspondent Annick Cojean gives a voice to Soraya’s story, and supplements her investigation into Gaddafi’s abuses of power through interviews with other women who were abused by Gaddafi, and those who were involved with his regime, including a driver who ferried women to the compound, and Gaddafi’s former Chief of Security.
Gaddafi’s Harem is an astonishing portrait of the essence of dictatorship: how power gone unchecked can wreak havoc on the most intensely personal level, as well as a document of great significance to the new Libya.
The Convict's Daughter
One wet autumn evening in 1848, fifteen-year-old Mary Ann Gill stole out of a bedroom window in her father’s Sydney hotel and took a coach to a local racecourse. There she was to elope with James Butler Kinchela, wayward son of the former Attorney-General. Her enraged father pursued them on horseback and fired two pistols at his daughter’s suitor, narrowly avoiding killing him.
What followed was Australia’s most scandalous abduction trial of the era, as well as an extraordinary story of adventure and misadventure, both in Australia and abroad. Through humiliation, heartache, bankruptcy and betrayal, Mary Ann hung on to James’ promise to marry her.
This is a compelling biography of a currency lass born when convicts were still working the streets of Sydney. Starting with just a newspaper clipping, historian Kiera Lindsey has uncovered the world of her feisty great, great, great-aunt, who lived and loved during a period of dramatic social and political change.