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Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England
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Kate Hubbard
Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England by Kate Hubbard at Abbey's Bookshop,

Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England

Kate Hubbard


Chatto & Windus

History of architecture;
Biography: historical, political & military;
British & Irish history;
Early modern history: c 1450 to c 1700


384 pages

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The remarkable story of Bess of Hardwick, her ascent through Elizabethan society and the houses she built that shaped British architectural history.

Born in 1521, Bess of Hardwick, property tycoon, businesswoman, money-lender and four-times wife, lived an astonishing eighty-seven years. Through canny choices and a will of steel she rose from country squire's daughter to Dowager Countess, establishing herself as one of the richest and most powerful women in England, second only to Queen Elizabeth.

Bess forged her way, not merely by a judicious choice of husbands, but by shrewd exploitation of whatever assets those husbands brought her. At a time when women were legally and financially subordinate to their husbands, Bess succeeded in manipulating hers to her own, and her children's, advantage, accumulating great riches and estates in the process.

But her greatest passion was for building and Bess kept a beady eye on every stage of the creation of her four houses. Hardwick New Hall, her sole surviving building, is stamped all over with Bess's identity and her initials, both outside and in. Hardwick is a celebration of one woman's triumphant progress through Elizabethan England.

In this new biography, Kate Hubbard examines Bess's life as a builder within the context of the Elizabethan building world, dominated as it was by men. Devices and Desires traces the building of Hardwick, but also of other houses that Bess knew, visited and coveted; Longleat, Holdenby, Theobalds. Throughout, it seeks to locate Bess within Hardwick, the lasting monument she left behind her.

By:   Kate Hubbard
Imprint:   Chatto & Windus
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   644g
ISBN:   9780701188757
ISBN 10:   0701188758
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   December 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

It's high time for a new biography of this extraordinary woman, who was a cross between Chaucer's Wife of Bath and Thackeray's Becky Sharp... Devices and Desires is fluently written and full of vivid colour and detail... This book will take its place rightly as the definitive biography of Bess of Hardwick -- Roy Strong * Country Life * Part biography and part building history, considering along the way the erection of Elizabethan prodigy houses, such as Longleat, Theobalds, Wollaton, and, above all, Bess's Hardwick New Hall. It is in here that we can still see Bess's wit, ambition, creativity and vast wealth... Meticulous... A work of considerable scholarship -- Suzannah Lipscomb * The Spectator * A fascinating portrait of the second most powerful female character in Elizabethan England, and a wonderfully detailed account of the making of its historic houses -- Rebecca Fraser, author of The Mayflower Generation Excellent. The approach taken is innovative, taking the reader back into the world of Bess of Hardwick, who was arguably the Elizabethan period's greatest builder. Kate Hubbard clearly sets Bess and her building works in the context of the period and her peers, providing the most nuanced account of her life to date -- Elizabeth Norton, author of The Lives of Tudor Women

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