Lenin in London

Most people know the now legendary tale of how Lenin returned to Russia after many years in exile on a sealed train across wartime Germany, arriving at Petrograd’s Finland Station on 16 April 1917. But few are aware of the life he led in Europe between 1900 and his dramatic return. During those years he came to London on five separate occasions…

Sarah Forbes Bonetta: the Slave Girl Gifted to Queen Victoria

In its Christmas Special for December 2017 the ITV series Victoria featured the story of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, an African slave girl who was brought to the court of Queen Victoria. She has frequently been described as the Queen’s goddaughter’ but this is not in fact true…

Queen Victoria’s dress sense – or lack of it

Queen Victoria’s dress sense – or rather, lack of it – was a subject that regularly provoked the despair of her courtiers. Despite his best efforts, the court painter, Franz Winterhalter, who painted some of the most fashionable women in Europe, could not disguise Victoria’s slightly provincial air…

The Pioneer Women Journalists who Inspired a Novel

In the late nineteenth century an extraordinary breed of new journalists appeared on the scene in America. The world had seen nothing like them before. They were young, feisty, courageous and iconoclastic – and they were women.

Beautiful For Ever: the True Story of Madame Rachel

Madame Rachel promised her clients that she would make them ‘Beautiful For Ever!’ But what they found inside her beguiling oriental boudoir with its latticed screens, lavish oriental wall hangings, splashing fountain and heavy crimson drapes, was something far darker…