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 fourteen 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. Four of her works have been chosen as Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. Her most recent history book, Mary Boleyn, was published in 2011. She is soon to publish a biography of Elizabeth of York. Her books sell all over the world. 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 a 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. (See www.alisonweir.org.uk)
Dr David Starkey is widely regarded as one of the world's most eminent historians. He is the UK's leading constitutional and monarchy expert and a colourful media personality. He has written diary columns for The Sunday Times and The Spectator and appears frequently on television and radio, often invited onto such programmes as BBC's Question Time and Newsnight. He is perhaps best known for his Channel 4 television documentary series which include 'Henry VIII of England', 'Elizabeth I of England' and 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII'. In 2004 he began a new Channel 4 multi-year series Monarchy, which chronicles the history of English Kings and Queens from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms onward. In addition to his media profile, David is a respected academic who lectured in international history at the London School of Economics from 1972 until 1998. He is currently an Honorary Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Dr Starkey has written several books, including Rivals in Power, The Reign of Henry VIII; Elizabeth: Apprenticeship, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the recent Monarchy: From the Middle Ages to Modernity and Henry, Virtuous Prince. With his wealth of knowledge and skills as a communicator, David blends information and insight with humour. David draws some spectacular analogies with the monarchy in his discourses on corporate leadership and is a prominent commentator on the state of British politics, business and society. An eloquent and highly accomplished speaker who both entertains and enthuses his audiences, Dr David Starkey is intelligent, ever witty, sometimes controversial, and always thought-provoking. Dr Starkey was appointed a CBE in the Queen's birthday honours list of 2007 for services to history.
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, to be published in August, 2013. Her interests include travelling, theatre and tennis. She is married with one daughter and lives in Kent.
Red Rose Chain is a dynamic theatre and film company based in Suffolk. Entirely independent and self-sustaining, they create original productions that confront social concerns, often working with overlooked or hard-to-reach groups to create powerful and insightful stories that demand to be told. Working with the community is the heart behind their work and fuels everything that they do. Whether performing Shakespeare or developing new writing, they are always finding ways of engaging and involving youth groups, schools and hard-to-reach audiences who might not normally have the chance to experience the arts.
They create new plays and films through a unique process that involves developing candid and authentic stories. Across the board their productions strive to challenge thinking, to encourage debate and to raise the expectations and ambitions that we all have of ourselves and those around us.
Elizabeth Norton is a British historian specialising in the queens of England and the Tudor period. She also works as a solicitor. She obtained an Master of Arts in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2003 and a Master's degree in European Archaeology from the University of Oxford in 2004. She is the author of nine non-fiction books: She Wolves, The Notorious Queens of England (2008); Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's Obsession (2008); Jane Seymour, Henry VIII's True Love (2009); Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's Discarded Bride (2009); Catherine Parr (2010); Margaret Beaufort, Mother of the Tudor Dynasty (2010); Anne Boleyn, In Her Own Words and the Words of Those Who Knew Her (2011); England's Queens: The Biography (2011) and Bessie Blount (2011). She is also the author of many articles, including Anne of Cleves and Richmond Palace (Surrey History, 2009). She is currently working on a biography of Elizabeth Howard, the mother of Anne and Mary Boleyn.
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, while Blood Sisters, her book on the royal women who brought the Tudor dynasty into being, was published in 2012 by HarperCollins. Sarah will accompany the tour for seven days, joining us at the Tower of London.
Dr 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 Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust, a charity that encourages children to visit and learn from historic properties, and Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and was involved in the representation of the Tudor rooms at Hampton Court Palace to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession. Tracy is the author of Henrietta Howard: King's Mistress, Queen's Servant, Elizabeth's Women and Matilda, Queen of the Conqueror. She has regularly appeared on television and radio and contributed to history magazines. She also gives public talks and lectures on a wide range of subjects.
Mavis Cheek left school at sixteen with no academic qualifications and began her working life as a lowly minion for the contemporary art publishers, Editions Alecto. London was lively and creative in the ‘sixties and by the time Editions Alecto opened a gallery in Albemarle Street, London, Mavis was based there working with artists such as David Hockney, Allen Jones, Patrick Caulfield, Gillian Ayres, Bridget Riley – from where she learned about modern and contemporary art. After twelve happy years at Editions Alecto Mavis left to study at Hillcroft College for Women from where she graduated in Arts with distinction. Shortly after this she began her writing career in earnest: journalism and travel writing at first, then short stories, and eventually, in 1988, her novel Pause Between Acts was published by The Bodley Head and won the She/John Menzies First Novel Prize. Mavis teaches creative writing for Arvon, Ty Newydd and many others. She is also the Founding President of the Marlborough Literature Festival, which puts literature, now in its fourth year and a resounding success. She is a Fellow of MacDowell in New Hampshire, and of the Royal Literary Fund, and currently judge of the McKitterick Prize for first novels by authors over forty years old. She has published sixteen books to great acclaim.
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, currently in preparation. The first is concerned with Lady Anne, 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. The second book, which began as a search for Norfolk House in Lambeth - famously associated with the young Katherine Howard - 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.
David Baldwin devised and taught courses for adults at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham for more than twenty years, and is the author of six books about the personalities and events of the Wars of the Roses. He anticipated in an article published in 1986 that Richard III's remains would be found on the site of the Grey friary in Leicester 'at some time in the twenty-first century', and his biography of the King (Amberley, 2012) has now been reprinted in paperback with an additional chapter bringing the story up to date. He is now working on a biography of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk.
Nicola Tallis is AWT's Assistant Historian. She graduated from Bath Spa University with a first class BA Hons. degree in History, and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Public History at Royal Holloway College, University of London. At university she was one of two students asked to help begin an archive for the university, and gave presentations to large groups at many Heritage events. She has also given papers about sixteenth-century monarchy at several historical conferences. Nicola has worked for Center Parcs for some years, specialising in customer care. She has been passionate about English history all 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 has completed an internship with the Interpretation Department at Hampton Court Palace, and also worked with the curators there to provide historical research for future projects. She currently works at Sudeley Castle, and was involved with many of the events organised there in 2012 to celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of Katherine Parr’s birth. She featured prominently on BBC's Countryfile in April 2013, guiding at Sudeley.
Siobhan Clarke deals with AWT's bookings and admin, and does guided tours for us. She 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 will accompany the tour on the first two days.
John Marston is AWT's Tour Manager. He 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. Assisting John in looking after AWT's guests is his wife Jo.
Alison Weir Tours Ltd.