Black Diamonds: The Downfall of an Aristocratic Dynasty and the Fifty Years That Changed England

Black Diamonds: The Downfall of an Aristocratic Dynasty and the Fifty Years That Changed England

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By (author) Catherine Bailey

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Format: Paperback | 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 206mm x 33mm | 454g
  • Publication date: 30 December 2014
  • ISBN 10: 0143126849
  • ISBN 13: 9780143126843
  • Sales rank: 578,421

Product description

From the "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Secret Rooms," the extraordinary true story of the downfall of one of England s wealthiest families Fans of "Downton Abbey" now have a go-to resource for fascinating, real-life stories of the spectacular lives led by England s aristocrats. With the novelistic flair and knack for historical detail Catherine Bailey displayed in her "New York Times" bestseller "The Secret Rooms," "Black Diamonds" provides a page-turning chronicle of the Fitzwilliam coal-mining dynasty and their breathtaking Wentworth estate, the largest private home in England. When the sixth Earl Fitzwilliam died in 1902, he left behind the second largest estate in twentieth-century England, valued at more than 3 billion of today s money a lifeline to the tens of thousands of people who worked either in the family s coal mines or on their expansive estate. The earl also left behind four sons, and the family line seemed assured. But was it? As Bailey retraces the Fitzwilliam family history, she uncovers a legacy riddled with bitter feuds, scandals (including Peter Fitzwilliam s ill-fated affair with American heiress Kick Kennedy), and civil unrest as the conflict between the coal industry and its miners came to a head. Once again, Bailey has written an irresistible and brilliant narrative history."

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Author information

Catherine Bailey read history at Oxford University and is an award-winning television producer and director, making a range of critically acclaimed documentary films inspired by her interest in twentieth century history. She is the author of the "New York Times" bestseller "The Secret Rooms "and "Black Diamonds." She lives in West London.

Review quote

Praise for "Black Diamonds" "While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery." - "Library Journal" "Gossipy bits...keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper." - "Kirkus Reviews" "As she did in 2013's "The Secret Rooms," Bailey performed deep research to produce this lucid account. And she did so in spite of the secretive Fitzwilliams' propensity for destruction of their private papers. But despite that major handicap, she draws on remaining documents and numerous interviews with surviving Fitzwilliam relatives and their servants. The result is narrative history of high caliber, written by a woman who knows a good story -- and how to tell it in a manner accessible to the general reader." - "The Richmond Times Dispatch" "The goingson at Wentworth are inevitably reminiscent of the fictional "Downton Abbey" now in its fifth season on Masterpiece Theatre, but they are at once grander, more sordid and generally harder-edged... A jolly good read." - "The Washington Times" ""Black Diamonds" has the great gift of bringing to life personal histories...wonderfully paced and wholly satisfying." - Kate Atkinson, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Life After Life " "While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery." - "Library Journal" "Gossipy bits...keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper." - "Kirkus Reviews" "Extraordinary, fascinating, harrowing. A truly compelling read" "The Sunday Telegraph ""Brilliant, gripping . . . one heck of a good read and will keep you bolt upright all night" "The Daily Telegraph ""Research worthy of an unsolved serial killing" "The Sunday Times" "A compelling new history . . . fascinating insights into the dynasty that once ruled this Yorkshire roost" "The Daily Mail" "A triumph of research" "The Evening Standard ""With all of the dramatic trappings and romantic details of a sweeping epic . . . vibrant and gripping" "The Observer ""Bailey offers an extraordinarily vivid series of descriptions of life at Wentworth" "Literary Review" ""Black Diamonds "admirably reflects both the nobility of the minors and the degradation of those who exploited them" "The Guardian"