Mary Queen of Scots in Staffordsire

This is a local history with national and international dimensions. It has always been known that Queen Mary was imprisoned in Staffordshire, and other Midlands counties, but the crucial role of this county in the many plots launched around the captive Queen has been underestimated. The times when the Queen was put in Staffordshire always meant that the plots and plotting which followed her had reached crisis proportions. Staffordshire was a highly secure backwater, but her jailers could not isolate her – until the very end, and then with unexpected consequences. At first the government of Elizabeth, her cousin, knew she was plotting but not how. In the first year of her captivity she sought a court intrigue to marry a Duke – and was caught up in the Earls revolt. In the final eighteen months in the county the spymaster Francis Walsingham organised a ground-breaking counter plot to find out what was going on. But was his counter plot a trap? This was an illegal captivity – but was Mary making political choices which triggered her downfall? Staffordshire was the crucial stage for the key developments in her English captivity, explored here for the first time in unique detail.

“This is an excellent book about the doomed Queen of Scots. The author has revealed much that is new particularly how her supporters and her enemy English spies used the weekly beer delivery which was to prove her downfall. A good read for Tudor enthusiasts.”

"Fisher steers a clear course through the tangled thickets to draw his own conclusions about who did just what, when and for what reasons. He has plenty of material to draw on, and meticulously references his sources. Students of Tudor history should welcome the decisiveness of judgement."

Prostitution and the Victorians

Victorian Britain has long been viewed as a tightly buttoned society in sexual matters. In fact, female prostitution, or the Great Social Evil as contemporaries called it, was endemic and the persistence of the phenomenon infuriated anti-vice campaigners, while perplexing social reformers. Trevor Fisher’s meticulous study of Victorian prostitution presents numerous fascinating extracts from newspapers, journals, diaries and letters to show how prostitutes viewed themselves and how they were regarded by others. It gives an invaluable insight into one of the darker aspects of Victorian life and helps us to understand why prostitution became such a ‘problem’ in Victorian Britain and examines how far the campaigners got in their aim to abolish the oldest profession altogether. Prostitution and the Victorians shows us too that many of the issues and arguments that occupied serious Victorians never have gone away and are as relevant today as they were 100 and more years ago.

Oscar and Bosie

This is the story of the relationship between Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, from the years in which Wilde rose to the pinnacle of theatrical success, through the catastrophe of trials at the Old Bailey and bitter separation, to the bleak years of exile that followed. The book explains how Oscar and “Bosie” took delight in leading a double life until Queensberry trapped Wilde in a legal action which Wilde had no hope of winning, with disastrous consequences for Wilde, Bosie and their most intimate companions. The author argues that Wilde is not the martyr of common mythology, the classic victim of Victorian homophobia. Before his trial, he explains, there had been no movement against homosexuals; on the contrary, the gay sub-culture had flourished. Wilde himself sought to control events both before the trial and in the aftermath, leaving behind a poisoned legacy that blighted the lives of both the men he had loved, Robbie Ross and his greatest passion, Douglas. In defending his relationship, Fisher points out, Oscar found himself caught in the midst of a bitter feud between Bosie and his father, the Marquess of Queensberry. This book sets out to reveal how the bitter passions that drove Bosie and led him into savage conflict with his family would, in the end, destroy his relationship with Oscar.

Villa for England 1881-2011

Seventy-one players have been picked for England while wearing the claret-and-blue shirt with the Lion badge – the highest total for any club. Their stories are told in this book with an entry for every single player. Even before the League, Villa began to supply internationals. Two players were capped for England in 1882, Howard Vaughton and Arthur Brown. Vaughton became the first player to score five goals in an international match. The great names are picked out for detailed treatment in a Pantheon section. And the individual stories are set against the overall history of this famous club. Villa’s history has been a roller coaster ride. The massive success before World War One led to high expectations which were not matched by performance in the middle years of the 20th century. Since returning to the top level, Villa players have been chosen for England sides and World Cup squads. England managers have always found Villa Park a rich source of talent.

Scandal - The Sexual Politics of Victorian Britain

Scandal looks at the way the sexual codes of Victorian Britain were exposed and reinforced by focusing on several  highly publicized scandals which shook British society in the latter half of the nineteenth century. These saw the downfall of Sir Charles Dilke, Charles Stewart Parnell and Oscar Wilde. The individual stories are well known but are set in the context of the debate over whether the Victorians had a code to which the Queen herself adhered,  or whether the Victorians had a hypocritical embrace of rigid standards which in practice were widely evaded. Historian Laurence Stone thought the puritans were in control from around 1800 to 1860 and thereafter a less repressive attitude developed. Jeffrey Weeks however thought the evangelicals only dominated from the 1880s onward when parliament was forced to embrace their views and he showed how the evidence proves that the evangelical puritans had little influence over parliamentary politicians in the first seventy years of the nineteenth century. The high profile scandals which then developed happened because the puritans gained support across society, forced changes in the law which MPs in both major parties initially disagreed with, and produced what we now see as Victorian Values.