Alison Weir Tours




Alison Weir is the best-selling female historian in the United Kingdom since records began in 1997. She had a career in the Civil Service before her first book, Britain`s Royal Families, came out in 1989. She has since written fifteen other history books, including The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, Lancaster and York, Children of England, Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, Katherine Swynford and The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn. Alison has also written five historical novels, the latest of which, The Marriage Game, was published in 2014. Her books have sold more than 2.7 million copies worldwide. Four of them have been chosen as Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. Her last historical biography, Elizabeth of York, was Britain's second best-selling historical biography in 2013. She is now working on a biography of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. In 2010 Alison published a short book, Traitors of the Tower, for the Quick Reads series for emergent adult readers. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and an Honourary Life Patron of Historic Royal Palaces. She has been a guest historian on many historical tours for English Heritage, and developed and led a Tudor Tapestry Tour for the Smithsonian Institute in April 2010 before setting up Alison Weir Tours Ltd. later that year (See      

After leaving Oxford, Sarah Gristwood worked as a journalist specialising in the arts and women's issues. The author of two Sunday Times best-selling history books, she is a regular contributor to The Times, the Guardian, the Independent and the Evening Standard. Arbella, her biography of Arbella Stuart, the first cousin of Elizabeth I and heir to her throne, was widely acclaimed.  She is also the author of Elizabeth and Leicester, the story of the relationship between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Bird of Paradise, a biography of the poet, actress and royal mistress, Mary Robinson, Fabulous Frocks, an illustrated account of the dresses that shaped twentieth-century fashion, and Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Official Companion, which marked the fiftieth anniversary of the classic film, The Girl in the Mirror, a novel set in Elizabethan times, and Blood Sisters, an acclaimed study of the royal women who brought the Tudor dynasty into being. Sarah is now working on Game of Queens, a book about female rulers in the sixteenth century. AWT are lucky to have Sarah as a full-time Guest Historian on the tours.

Charles, 9th Earl Spencer was educated at Eton College and obtained his degree in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was a reporter on NBC’s Today show from 1986 until 1995, and is the author of several books, including the Sunday Times bestseller Blenheim: The Battle for Europe (shortlisted for History Book of the Year, National Book Awards), Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier. and the acclaimed, ground-breaking Killers of the King: The Men who Dared to Execute Charles I, published by Bloomsbury in September 2014.

Tracy Borman studied and taught history at the University of Hull and was awarded a PHD in 1997. She went on to a successful career in heritage and has worked for a range of historic properties and national heritage organisations, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Archives and English Heritage. Tracy is now Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust, a charity that encourages children to visit and learn from historic properties. She has recently been appointed Interim Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and the Banqueting House, Whitehall. She is the author of Henrietta Howard, King's Mistress, Queen's Servant; Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen; Matilda, Queen of the Conqueror; Witches, A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction, and Thomas Cromwell, published in 2014. She is now working on The Private Life of the Tudors. Tracy has regularly appeared on television and radio, and has featured in a range of magazine and newspaper articles. She is a regular contributor to history magazines, including articles in BBC History Magazine on the history of beauty and 18th century ‘It’ Girls. In addition, she also gives public talks and lectures on a wide range of subjects.

Lesley Smith is Curator of Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire and essentially an English Reformationist Medical Historian. She is currently writing up her PhD in obstetrics and gynaecology in early modern Britain, supervised by Birmingham University and The British Museum. She is also a member of the Association of Medical Writers. Lesley also holds an Honorary Degree for ‘Services to History’. Recognised as an authority in her field, she has lectured across the world including the Royal Society in Edinburgh for The Scottish Parliament, The Royal Society of Medicine, The Royal College in London and Cambridge University Medical School, making over 300 public performances a year. Lesley studies the reproduction and gynaecological lives of women. This is a challenging field as the study of women is fragmented; much of the research is about their private lives and examines often forbidden knowledge at a time when women were very largely uneducated. She has 30 academic publications in her name.  Lesley has appeared in over 130 television programmes in the last 7 years, going out to 47 countries and gives national radio interviews across the globe.

Elizabeth Norton is a writer and historian, specialising in the queens of England and the Tudor period. She has written ten non-fiction books, including short biographies of four of Henry VIII's wives and England's Queens: The Biography, which is the only book to detail the lives of all English queens from the early Anglo-Saxon period to the present day. She has degrees from Oxford and Cambridge Universities and is currently carrying out research at King's College, London and writing a book about the young Elizabeth I, entitled The Seymour Scandal, for Head of Zeus.

Michael Hicks is Professor Emeritus in Medieval History at the University of Winchester, and has been called the greatest living expert on Richard III. He has written extensively on late medieval English politics and society. He studied at the Universities of Bristol, Southampton and Oxford and worked briefly for the Victoria History of the County of Hampshire. He is one of the most eminent historians of late medieval England, especially the nobility, the Wars of the Roses and Richard III, and has written about all the Yorkist kings. His books include The Wars of the Roses, English Political Culture in the Fifteenth Century, Edward IV, Warwick the Kingmaker, Richard III and Anne Neville. His other academic interests are the late medieval English church and English regional and local history. He has lectured at The University of Winchester since 1978, and recently as Professor of Medieval History and Head of History. He was appointed Emeritus Professor in September 2014.

Helen Rappaport read Russian Special Studies at Leeds University and, after working as an actress and as a freelance non-fiction editor, decided to go back to her first love, writing history. Since 1998 she has published 11 books, specialising in the Victorians, the reign of the Queen Victoria and the Romanovs and late Imperial Russia.  Among her published works are: Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion (2001); Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs (2008), A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy (2011), and most recently Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses (2014). She has appeared on numerous BBC radio and TV programmes talking about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, including the 3-part series Queen Victoria's Children and was historical consultant and talking head on the forthcoming BBC2 documentary 'Russia's Lost Princesses' about the Romanov sisters.

Anne O'Brien gained a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Masters degree in Education at Hull. A teacher of history, she has gained international renown as the author of nine historical novels ranging from the medieval period to the Civil War, the Restoration and the Regency, have been published internationally. Virgin Widow, published in 2010, was Anne's first novel based on the life of an historical character: Anne Neville, wife of Richard III. She has also written about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alice Perrers, Philippa of Hainault, Katherine Swynford, and Katherine of Valois, about whom she will be speaking on this tour.

Dr Anna Whitelock is a historian, author and broadcaster. She is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History and is Director of the Centre for Public History, Heritage and Engagement with the Past at Royal Holloway, University of London.She lectures on political, social and cultural history in the sixteenth and seventeenth century and is director of the Centre for Public History, Heritage and Engagement with the Past.She gained her Ph.D. from Corpus Christi College Cambridge under the supervision of Dr David Starkey. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Anna is the prize-winning author of Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen (Bloomsbury 2009). She was the winner of the 2010 Arts Club Emerging Writer Award and was short-listed for the Biographers' Club Best First Biography Prize. Anna’s latest book is Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen’s Court (Bloomsbury, 2013). Anna is a regular media commentator on the Tudors, the monarchy, royal bodies, gender and politics as well as on public history and heritage.

Lauren Mackay is an historian whose focus of study goes beyond familiar historical figures and events to lesser known individuals, as well as beliefs, customs, and diplomacy of the 16th Century. Lauren completed her Master of History with the University of New England, and is currently researching her PhD on 'Thomas and George Boleyn in the English Reformation' with the University of Newcastle in Australia. Lauren has given numerous talks based on her doctoral research in the United Kingdom and Australia, and she is the author of Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and his Six Wives through the Life and Writings of the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, the first full length biography of the Imperial ambassador to Henry's court. She is currently working on a book about the Boleyn men.

David Baldwin is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and devised and taught courses for adults at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham for more than twenty years; he also ran a hostorical tours company. His 2002 study of Queen Elizabeth Woodville (Elizabeth Woodville, Mother of the Princes in the Tower) has been reprinted many times, and his other books include The Lost Prince, The Survival of Richard of York (2007), The Kingmaker’s Sisters, Six Women in the Wars of the Roses (2009), and Richard III (2012). His biography of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, a contemporary of Queens Mary and Elizabeth I, will be published in 2015.

Marilyn Roberts was educated at the University of Hull, from where she was awarded a Masters Degree in the History and Politics of the Administration of Education in England and Wales. After nearly thirty years in teaching and teacher-training she embarked on a new career as a writer and lecturer and is also a Collections Care Co-ordinator at Epworth Old Rectory Museum, childhood home of John and Charles Wesley. Marilyn’s research into the Mowbray family, the original dukes of Norfolk, resulted in the publication of The Mowbray Legacy in 2004, and subsequent research on the family’s London connections has led to two further books: The Bare Bones of Queen Victoria's Family Trees, and Lady Anne Mowbray: The High and Excellent Princess, the life of the only child of the last Mowbray duke, who as a five-year-old was married to the four-year-old Prince Richard of York, who later disappeared in the Tower with his brother, Edward V. Marilyn is now working on another book, which began as a search for Norfolk House in Lambeth - famously associated with the young Katherine Howard - and developed into an interest not only in the house itself, but also in Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, step-grandmother to both Katherine and her cousin, Anne Boleyn. Marilyn also has a specialist interest in twentieth-century royalty. Marilyn is a regular speaker on Alison Weir Tours.

Sara Cockerill studied law at the University of Oxford. She is a practising Q.C. specialising in commercial law, and the author of a leading specialist legal text. She has had a lifelong interest in English history and has devoted her spare time over the past ten years to researching the life of Eleanor of Castile, the result being her first biography, Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen, published by Amberley in 2014.

Dr Elena (Ellie) Woodacre is a specialist in medieval and early modern queenship and a lecturer in Early Modern European History at the University of Winchester. Her recent monograph, The Queens Regnant of Navarre; Succession, Politics and Partnership (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) examines female succession, matrimonial diplomacy and the power-sharing dynamic between the queens regnant of Navarre and their kings consort in the late Middle Ages. She has also edited a recent collection, Queenship in the Mediterranean (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), which draws together a series of intriguing case studies in the region during the medieval and early modern period to demonstrate key themes of female political agency and cultural influence. Elena is the co-organiser of the ‘Kings & Queens’ conference series and the founder of the Royal Studies Network (, a resource which aims to bring together scholars who work on monarchical topics to enable them to collaborate and share information on their research. She is currently developing an open-access academic journal for research in the field of royal studies with an international team of scholars to be launched in 2014.

Dr Linda Porter, historian and author, has a doctorate in History from the University of York. In a varied career, she has been an academic in New York, teaching at Hunter College and Fordham University and a senior manager in the Corporate Communications department of a major telecommunications company in the UK.  When she left the corporate world she decided to return to full-time historical research and writing.  Linda is the author of three books: Mary Tudor:The First Queen, Katherine The Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr and Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots, published in 2013 to high acclaim. She is now working on Royal Renegades: the children of Charles I and the Civil Wars. Her interests include travelling, theatre and tennis. She is married with one daughter and lives in Kent. Linda is a regular speaker on Alison Weir Tours.

Dr Kate Williams is the author of several acclaimed biographies, ENGLAND'S MISTRESS (about Lady Hamilton)), BECOMING QUEEN (about Queen Victoria), YOUNG ELIZABETH (about the present Queen) and a novel, THE PLEASURES OF MEN. She co-wrote THE RING AND THE CROWN on the history of royal weddings with fellow history girls, Alison Weir, Sarah Gristwood and Tracy Borman. Here latest biography, JOSEPHINE: DESIRE, AMBITION, NAPOLEON, was published in 2013, and she is currently writing THE STORMS OF WAR series of novels, which follows the epic tale of a family from the outbreak of World War I until the beginning of World War II. The first in the series was publisged in 2014. Kate appears frequently on TV and radio, and is CNN's in-house historian and analyst.

Christopher Warwick is a highly respected writer, biographer and broadcaster, specialising in royal history. The best-selling authorized biographer of H.R.H. The Princess Margaret, his other books include Taschen’s lavish Art Book, HER MAJESTY, recently published to celebrate the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II; ELLA: PRINCESS SAINT & MARTYR, the definitive biography of Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna of Russia, now re-issued as an e-book and in paperback as THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ELLA, GRAND DUCHESS OF RUSSIA – A ROMANOV TRAGEDY; and GEORGE AND MARINA, Duke and Duchess of Kent, a revised edition of which is also to be published in both e-book and paperback format. A former consultant editor of Majesty magazine, Christopher is a regular commentator with Canada’s biggest television news network, CTV, for whom he provides expert opinion and analysis of royal events, and BBC Television and Radio. He is frequently asked to appear in television documentaries, the most recent of which include Russia’s Lost Princesses, King George and Queen Mary, Royal Babies (for which he was also historical consultant) and The Real King’s Speec. He writes for, and is consulted by, the national press, and has given talks for, among others, Historic Royal Palaces, Cunard and the Windsor Festival.

Nicola Tallis, AWT's Resident Historian, graduated from Bath Spa University with a first class BA Hons. degree in History, and has an MA in Public History from Royal Holloway College, University of London. She is currently studying for her PhD at the University of Winchester, where her thesis investigates the jewellery collections of the queens of England between 1464 and 1548. She has been passionate about English history all her life, and has just finished writing her first book, a biography of Frances Brandon, mother of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. She has recently been signed to the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency and is is now working on her second book. Nicola completed an internship with the Interpretation Department at Hampton Court Palace, and also worked with the Curators to provide historical research for future projects. She has also given papers about sixteenth-century monarchy at several historical conferences, and has been working with the National Trust at Montacute House, delivering their education programme to school children. She currently works as the Curator at Sudeley Castle, and featured prominently on BBC’s Countryfile in April 2013, guiding at Sudeley.

Siobhan Clarke, who looks after AWT bookings, pre-tour customer care and admin, has a B.A. in Modern History and has worked for Historic Royal Palaces for many years. She is based at Hampton Court Palace, where she trained as a costumed interpreter before becoming a H.R.P. Guide Lecturer. As well as specialising in sixteenth-century dress she delivers tours and lectures on Hampton Court Palace and the Banqueting House, Whitehall Palace. Siobhan is an Associate Member of the Institute of Tourist Guiding and her experience includes education sessions and tours for schools, universities, travel companies and corporate visitors. She has lectured for the National Trust, the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts and the Smithsonian Institution. (See Siobhan becomes famililar to guests through her assistance to them before the tour, and will be a Guest Historian for part of the Great Queens tour.

John Marston has had over forty-five years' experience in the travel industry, and he will accompany the tour in the role of Travel Director to ensure that all guests have information on hotels, restaurants, schedule timings, local information and baggage handling etc.. John has worked for major commercial companies including Land Rover, Jaguar Cars and L'Oreal Cosmetics, arranging world-wide travel for groups of between forty to over four hundred. His experience has included planning and booking trips, and personally escorting these groups. For Land Rover, John was in charge of their major U.S. dealer group, looking after a party of fifty executive guests and their partners, and arranging visits to London, Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, the Duke of Atholl's estate at Pitlochry in Scotland, and Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland. This was just one of many launch programs that John has organised; his priority has always been to give the highest standard of personal attention to guests' needs. Jo Marston accompanies AWT's tours with her husband, John; her role is to look after guests' pastoral needs.