Alison Weir 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 four historical novels, the latest of which, A Dangerous Inheritance, was published in 2012. Her books sell all over the world. Four of them have been chosen as Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. Her last history book, Mary Boleyn, was published in 2011, and her next, a biography of Elizabeth of York, will be published in November 2013. In 2010, she 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 www.alisonweir.org.uk)
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 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. In 2011, she published her first historical novel, The Girl in the Mirror, set in Elizabethan times, and Blood Sisters, her book on the royal women who brought the Tudor dynasty into being, was published in 2012 by HarperCollins.
JUNE TOUR ONLY
Lisa Hilton is the author of four historical biographies: The Real Queen of France (2002), Mistress Peachum’s Pleasure (2005), Queens Consort: A History of England’s Medieval Queens (2008) and The Horror of Love (2011). Her first novel, The House with Blue Shutters, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth fiction prize, and the first bestselling volume of her Renaissance trilogy, Wolves in Winter was published in 2012. This year she will publish Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince, a major biography commissioned by Weidenfled and Nicolson and the second volume in the trilogy, The Stolen Queen. Lisa works widely as a journalist, television presenter and broadcaster and lives in London. More information at www.lisa-hilton.com.
Nicola Tallis 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 of her life, and is currently working on her first history book, a biography of Frances Brandon, mother of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. 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. Nicola 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.
John Marston has had over forty years experience in the travel industry, and he will accompany the tour in the role of Tour 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.
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 twelve 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 16th 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 www.thehistoryguides.com). Siobhan becomes famililar to many guests through her dealings with them before the tour, and you will have a chance to meet her at the farewell dinner.
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. Her interests include travelling, theatre and tennis. She is married with one daughter and lives in Kent.
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. His 2002 biography 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). He is now working on a life of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, a contemporary of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Jessie Childs is an award-winning author and historian. Born in 1976, she graduated from Oxford University with a first-class degree in history. Her debut book, Henry VIII's Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was critically acclaimed and won the 2007 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. Jessie has written and reviewed for various publications, including the Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, the Literary Review, BBC History Magazine and Standpoint. She lives in London with her husband and two daughters and combines writing with the school run. Her second book, God's Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England (Bodley Head, March 2014), tells the story of one Catholic family's struggle to keep the faith in Protestant England. A tale of dawn raids and daring escapes, stately homes and torture chambers, ciphers, secrets and lies, it exposes all the tensions and insecurities masked by the cult of Gloriana.
JUNE TOUR ONLY
Dr John Cooper's immersion in the sixteenth century began at Merton College, Oxford. He studied for an MA as a Thouron Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania before returning to Oxford to research his doctorate on Tudor royal propaganda.He joined the University of York in 2005, having worked on the Tudor desk at the Dictionary of National Biography and as a teaching fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford. His research focuses on the political, religious and cultural history of sixteenth-century England, and he is also interested in the history of early colonial America and Ireland. He writes for the Times Literary Supplement and gives regular public lectures.His book, The Queen's Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I, was published in 2011 to great acclaim.
OCTOBER TOUR ONLY
Mary S. Lovell has written 10 acclaimed and best-selling biographies on subjects as diverse as Sir Richard Burton, Amelia Earhart, the Mitford Girls, Winston Churchill and Bess of Hardwick. Her biography Bess of Hardwick was first published in 2005; it is now in its 12th printing, and has been optioned for a television film. Mary is particularly noted for her intensive research methods and all her non-fiction books are copiously annotated. She dislikes the increasing trend for biographies which set out to destroy reputations and regards herself as a storyteller, rather than a ‘literary’ writer: “Everybody enjoys a good fast-paced story and that is what I try to write, only my stories are pure fact, not fiction. For me there is always an added frisson of enjoyment when I know that what I'm reading about actually occurred, and is not simply a figment of someone's imagination." Mary has lectured on her books all over the UK and in many other countries including USA, France, South America, Syria, Jordan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, as well as appearing at top literary festivals. She enjoys aviation, sailing, all equestrian sports, travel - especially in the deserts of the Middle East - and books. She lives in the New Forest in Hampshire, England.
Dr Alison Rosie joined the National Records of Scotland (then the Scottish Record Office) in 1986. She now works for the National Register of Archives for Scotland advising private owners on looking after their archives. While working there she completed her thesis on chivalric spectacle at princely courts in France and Italy in the 15th cnetury. Her interest in French history, court culture and the history of costume drew her to the surviving archives held in the N.R.S. relating to Mary Queen of Scots, in particular the inventories of her clothing and jewels and the accounts recording purchases of materials for Mary and her household.
OCTOBER TOUR ONLY
Since graduating with an MA (Hons) degree in History with Scottish History from the University of Glasgow, David Laird has worked as a tour guide for the last four years. A former civil servant, he has worked with Mercat Tours, Historic Scotland and since 2010 with Historic Royal Palaces. An enthusiast about Stewart history, his interest has enabled him to guide through the State Apartments of Edinburgh Castle, Craigmillar Castle, Kensington Palace and the Banqueting House at Whitehall. When not delivering tours, he works as a freelance storyteller for Historic Royal Palaces and the Scottish Borders Council, recently delivering workshops as part of the BBC-aired ‘Fit to Rule’ project to outreach and elderly groups.Currently he works fulltime in the Learning and Engagement Team based at Hampton Court Palace, managing the Education Centre and volunteer teams. David will be guiding in Scotland during the October Mary, Queen of Scots tour.