Jane Ridley

Portrait of Talleyrand by Ary Scheffer

What Theresa May could learn from Talleyrand

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Talleyrand was 76 when he took up the post of French ambassador in London in 1830. Linda Kelly deals only…

Molly Keane’s bad behaviour

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Molly Keane achieved fame and critical acclaim in 1981 aged 75, when she published the novel Good Behaviour, a razor-sharp…

Before she was 40, Anne Barnard had had at least 20 serious suitors and 11 marriage proposals

Anne Barnard: a portrait of a very unusual lady

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Lady Anne Barnard is a name that means almost nothing today, but her story is a remarkable one. She defied…

Steven Runciman with his parakeet, photographed by Cecil Beaton c.1923. Runciman was Beaton’s first photographic subject

Steven Runciman — historian, tease and professional enigma

22 October 2016 9:00 am

Steven Runciman, the historian of Byzantium, is a puzzling figure. He was an outrageous snob, once remarking that he would…

Gladstone silences the Irish press for inciting Fenian violence. Cartoon from Punch, 9 April 1890, by John Tenniel

Victorian prime ministers and the press

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Lord Palmerston is remembered today not for his foreign policy nor for his octogenarian philandering, but for his management of…

American teenagers in the 1940s: part of the Silent Generation — so called for conforming to the norm and focusing on careers rather than activism

Older, more angsty...and maybe wiser: the new face of growing up

2 May 2015 9:00 am

We live in an age of generational turmoil. Baby-boom parents are accused of clinging on to jobs and houses which…

Margot dressed as an oriental snake charmer for a fancy dress ball at Devonshire House in 1897

Move over Downton: Margot and the Asquiths’ marital soap opera

29 November 2014 9:00 am

You might be forgiven for thinking that there is no need for yet another book about Margot Asquith. Her War…

Scenes from a long life. Left to right: the vulnerable young queen, in thrall to Prince Albert; overcoming her demons with the help of John Brown — depicted in a popular souvenir cut-out; and the matriarch as Empress of India

Is there anything left to say about Queen Victoria? A.N. Wilson has found plenty

6 September 2014 9:00 am

A new, revisionist biography argues that it was only after her husband’s death that Queen Victoria found her true self. Jane Ridley is impressed

Edward VII, portrayed in the French press hurrying across the Channel to the delights of Paris

The Paris of Napoleon III was one big brothel – which is why the future Edward VII loved it

7 June 2014 9:00 am

Stephen Clarke lives in Paris and writes book with titles such as 1,000 Years of Annoying the French. Dirty Bertie…

Queen Victoria with the naughty bits put back

15 March 2014 9:00 am

Queen Victoria was the inventor of official royal biography. It was she who commissioned the monumental five-volume life of Prince…

What was the secret of Queen Victoria's rebel daughter?

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Princess Louise (1848–1939), Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, was the prettiest and liveliest of the five princesses, and the only one…

The food of love

4 January 2014 9:00 am

The Albek Duo are two astonishingly beautiful and talented Venetian musicians, Fiona and Ambra, who are identical twins. Hearing the…

Can virgins have babies?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Mrs Christabel Russell, the heroine of Bevis Hillier’s sparkling book, was a very modern young woman. She had short blonde…

Cat fight: tension mounts between the Great Powers in 1905 as Edward VII, Kaiser Wilhelm II and the French foreign minister, Théophile Delcassé, squabble over Morocco

What caused the first world war?

12 October 2013 9:00 am

In pre-1914 cosmopolitan society, everyone seemed to be related — ambassadors as well as monarchs. But increased militarisation was fast obliterating old family ties, says Jane Ridley 

Marie Duplessis

The Girl Who Loved Camellias, by Julie Kavanagh - review

17 August 2013 9:00 am

Verdi’s La Traviata is the story of a courtesan who is redeemed when she gives up the man she loves…

Perilous Question, by Antonia Fraser— review

11 May 2013 9:00 am

Jane Ridley describes the human, as well as political, drama of the 1830s, when Britain was on the verge of revolution11

Holland House by John Wykeham Archer

'Holland House: A History of London’s Most Celebrated Salon', by Linda Kelly – review

6 April 2013 9:00 am

Holland House, which was bombed in 1940, was a large, rambling Jacobean mansion off Kensington High Street. In 1800 it…

Secrets and ties

2 February 2013 9:00 am

Jane Ridley says that reports of the death of the family are greatly exaggerated – it has simply mutated

Taking a pop at the Queen

12 January 2013 9:00 am

On 10 June 1840 an 18-year-old out-of-work Londoner named Edward Oxford cocked his pistol and fired two shots at Queen…

No stone left unturned

6 October 2012 9:00 am

Dickens, the inspiration and source for this book, was addicted to walking the London streets at night. A man who…

The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton, by Diane Atkinson

25 August 2012 6:00 am

Caroline Norton seems an unlikely pioneer of women’s rights. Born in 1808, the granddaughter of the playwright Sheridan, she was…

Another night to remember

4 August 2012 6:00 am

Though countless treasures were lost in the disastrous fire that destroyed Parliament in 1834, there were a few compensations, Jane Ridley concedes

Crusader on the attack

31 December 2011 10:00 am

Why have we forgotten John Bright? In his day he was a massive political celebrity. He could command audiences of…

The woman in black

3 December 2011 9:00 am

The history of the royal family is punctuated by dramatic, premature deaths which plunge the monarchy into crisis. The most…

The call of the wild

27 August 2011 10:00 am

Christopher Ondaatje is best known as a member of the great and the good and a generous patron of the arts, notably the National Portrait Gallery. The pieces collected in this book give glimpses of another, quite different life as a traveller and writer.