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 seventeen 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 six historical novels, the latest of which, Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, is the first in a series of six on the wives of Henry VIII. 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, The Lost Tudor Princess, was published in October 2015. In 2010 Alison published a short book, Traitors of the Tower, for the Quick Reads series for emergent adult readers. She has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and is 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 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, Blood Sisters, an acclaimed study of the royal women who brought the Tudor dynasty into being, The Story of Beatrix Potter and 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.
After reading History at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Julian Humphreys spent 12 years at Chelsea’s National Army Museum where he set up a number of special exhibitions and was spokesman to the media on all matters of military history. He has acted as a historical expert on a number of TV programmes, has featured several times on BBC Radio 4’s Ramblings series, and made three expeditions to Bosnia during the civil war to record the British army’s activities there and obtain objects for display in the Museum. A qualified Blue-Badge guide, Julian left the Museum to pursue a career in guiding and lecturing – battles and castles are his speciality! He worked alongside Alison Weir on English Heritage’s Tours Through Time, and in 2009 he was appointed Development Officer of the Battlefields Trust, the UK Charity dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Britain’s historic battlefields. Julian lectures and writes extensively on many aspects of British history – he is a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine and History Revealed Magazine and his published books include The Private Life of Palaces (for Historic Royal Palaces), Clash of Arms: Twelve English Battles and Enemies at the Gate: English Castles under Siege (both for English Heritage). Julian joined us for the whole of the Richard III tour in 2016, and proved very popular with our guests.
Nicola Tallis, AWT's other fuull-time guest 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 published her first book, Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, in November 2016. 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, and at Wilton House. She worked as the Curator at Sudeley Castle, and featured prominently on BBC’s Countryfile in April 2013, guiding at Sudeley.
Guest historians in order of their appearance on the tour:
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. She is now Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust, a charity that encourages children to visit and learn from historic properties through the Sandford Award scheme. She is also joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, the Banqueting House, Whitehall and Hillsborough Castle. She often appears on television and radio, and is a regular contributor to history magazines, notably BBC History. She has published seven books, notably Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen, Matilda, Queen of the Conqueror, Thomas Cromwell and The Private Lives of the Tudors.
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 four acclaimed books: Mary Tudor:The First Queen, Katherine The Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots, and 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.
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. Her latest books are The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor and Tudor Women.
Derek Wilson is a highly prolific historian of “fact, faith, fiction and fantasy”. A graduate from Cambridge in 1961, he spent several years travelling and teaching in Africa before becoming a full-time writer and broadcaster in 1971. Derek’s body of work of both fiction and non-fiction work is extensive, and includes an amazing chronology of biographies, history books, and historical novels. His Tudor titles include A Tudor Tapestry - Men, Woman and Society in Reformation England, Sweet Robin - Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, In The Lion's Court – Power, Ambition and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII, Uncrowned Kings of England – The Black Legend of the Dudley, Hans Holbein – Portrait of an Unknown Man, Francis Walsingham – Courtier in an Age of Terror and A Brief History of Henry VIII – Reformer and Tyrant. Under the pen name D.K. Wilson, Derek has written a trilogy of Tudor suspense novels featuring protagonist Thomas Treviot, a young goldsmith drawn into a religious conspiracy.
Dr Anna Whitelock is a historian, author and broadcaster. She is a Reader 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); published in the USA as The Queen's Bed, it won the American Pen prize for Biography in 2015. Anna is a regular media commentator on the Tudors, the monarchy, royal bodies, gender and politics as well as on public history and heritage.
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 (www.royalstudiesnetwork.org), 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 working on a biography of Joan of Navarre, queen of Henry IV.
Robert Hutchinson OBE is a historian, archaeologist and broadcast journalist, most recently chairing the media division of Britain’s Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee. He specializes in the history of the Reformation, especially church archeology, and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He started his working life as a reporter on regional newspapers before joining The Press Association, (the news agency for UK and Irish media) as a night sub-editor. He returned to reporting, later becoming Defence Correspondent. In late 1983 he joined Jane’s Publishing Company as one of the team that successfully launched Jane’s Defence Weekly and became Publishing Director of Jane’s Information Group in 1987. He has written several books on the history of the Tudors, including Last Days of Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s Spymaster, Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Minister, The Spanish Armada, House of Treason and Young Henry, as well as contributing to The History Channel’s Inside the Body of Henry VIII.
Born and raised in the United States, Susan Ronald has lived in England for more than twenty-five years. She has consulted for five British government departments and The National Trust as an historian and commercial advisor on Britain’s historic built environment. As the keynote speaker at the Richard III Society’s Annual General meeting in 2011, she put into context the Tudor world view of Richard III as expressed in Shakespeare. She is the author of six history books ranging across the ages, with her latest book Hitler's Art Thief - Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis and the Looting of Europe’s Treasures (2015) being her first foray into the twentieth century. She is also the author of Heretic Queen: Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion, Shakespeare's Daughter (a novel), The Pirate Queen, The Sancy Blood Diamond, and France: Crossroads of Europe. She also owns a film production company, and is a screenwriter and film producer.
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.
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 many acclaimed 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.
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 www.thehistoryguides.com). Siobhan will be famililar to guests through her assistance to them before the tour.
John Marston has had over fifty 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 and support the team.