Author(s): Claudia Renton
Winner of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2014 A rich historical biography of 'those wild Wyndhams' - three cultured aristocratic sisters born into great privilege in late Victorian Britain. Mary, Madeline and Pamela - the three beautiful Wyndham sisters - were born into immense wealth. Cultured bohemian daughters of a maverick politician and an artistic mother, they became entangled with the scandalous and intellectual 'Souls' set, as well as the most celebrated figures of the day, including Oscar Wilde, Marie Stopes and the iconoclastic poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, lover both of Mary and her mother before her. Two sisters were intimate with great statesmen - Prime Minister Arthur Balfour and the Liberal politician Edward Grey - and only one of them would marry happily. This first ever biography of the sisters captures their dramatic lives from romantic beginnings through the passions and disappointments of womanhood to the tragedy and devastation of the First World War that brought a definitive end to their sons, their era and way of life.
Winner of Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2014.
'Wonderful ... a magnificently skilful biography of this trio of sexy sisters and the politically turbulent context of their lives. Renton demonstrates her scholarship with butterfly-winged elegance as she tells the story of a generation of Imperialist Victorians Suffused with privilege, power, money and sex that eventually ended in tragedy' Evening Standard 'Renton never loses sight of the bigger historical picture. She sets the sisters' fabulously privileged and sometimes troubled lives against the convulsions of home and international politics through which they lived. The result is an impeccably researched, beautifully written and compellingly readable biography' Daily Mail 'Magnificent ... [It] has the wisdom, excitement and psychological depth of a very good novel. She succeeds in combining the novelist's art with the historian's craft, laying the sources and workings before us. The beauty and romance are captured unforgettably' Observer 'Impeccably rehearsed and researched ... a serious, spellbinding chronicle of the last days of Edwardian England' The Times 'A magnificently skilful biography...based on scrupulous research and enriched by hundreds of deliciously indiscreet, charmingly frank, pre-Mitfordian letters... Renton demonstrates her scholarship with butterfly winged elegance ... [a] wonderful book' Evening Standard 'This elegantly written tableau of a book is much more than a group biography; it is an elegiac account of the horrors of the First World War from a female perspective. Renton is excellent at setting personal events within their larger political or social context' Literary Review 'A lucid and superbly researched book' Spectator 'Hilarious, heartbreaking and completely absorbing, Renton has captured the last rays of light of a gilded family of remarkable women' Amanda Foreman 'Readers who enjoyed reading about the Mitfords and Stella Tillyard's 'Aristocrats' will relish Renton's elegant book. [An] enthralling period portrait' Daily Express
Claudia Renton took a Double First at Oxford and was awarded the Gibbs Book Prize for Modern History. Now a practising barrister, she has also enjoyed a career as an actress, appearing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and at the National Theatre. She is co-author of Heroes with Simon Sebag Montefiore and was identified as one of the Guardian's 'new history girls' and Vogue's 'Bright Stars' of the next decade. She lives in London.