Sunday, 16 August 2009

Book news: History and biography this autumn

It seems there will be a flood of interesting biographies and history books this autumn. Here in Norway Oscarshall Palace will reopen next week and in that connection Cappelen Damm will publish a new guide book about the summer palace by the art historian Nina E. Høye, who has earlier written a similar book on the Royal Palace (which is also available in English). The political scientist Carl-Erik Grimstad, best known as a former palace employee and for his feud with the King’s son-in-law Ari Behn, is the author of Dronning Mauds arv, which will be published by Aschehoug in November. Aschehoug is also the publisher of Bård Frydenlund’s Stormannen Peder Anker, a biography of our first Prime Minister Peder Anker which will be out in November.
Hans Olav Lahlum, the historian who in the last years has enjoyed success with his books on former prime minister Oscar Torp and the American presidents, has written the authorised biography of Labour party legend Haakon Lie. The book, titled Haakon Lie – Mytene om mennesket, will be published by Cappelen Damm on Lie’s 104th birthday 22 September. Lie had promised to be present at the release, but died in May this year. In Norway we will also see the first out of two volumes of Edvard Hoem’s biography of the author and politician Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.
In Sweden Albert Bonniers förlag will publish the journalist Herman Lindqvist’s Jean Bernadotte – Mannen vi valde, a book on King Carl XIV Johan’s life before he came to Sweden in 1810. The book will be out on 8 September. In September Gullers förlag will also release the volume on Haga, edited by Ingrid Sjöström, in the series on the Swedish royal palaces.
The first proper biography of King Carl X Gustaf, written by Björn Asker, will be published by Historiska Media this month. Henrik Arnstad, the biographer of Sweden’s wartime Foreign Minister Christian Günther, has written Skyldig till skuld, which deals with Nazi Germany’s allies and the question of responsibility. What he writes about Finland and Marshal Mannerheim has already stirred controversy well ahead of the book’s publication.
Jonas Nordin’s Frihetstidens monarki, about the Swedish monarchy in the Age of Liberty (1720-1772), was scheduled for May, but will apparently have to wait for the autumn. A biography of Prince Eugen by the retired director general of Waldemarsudde Hans Henrik Brummer has also been postponed – it was originally expected this year, but I am told Brummer is still on his head in the archives.
In Denmark we can expect the historian Jens Engberg’s biography of King Frederik VI, titled Den standhaftige tindsoldat, to be published by Politikens Forlag on 20 September. The greatest expectations are perhaps reserved for William Shawcross’s official biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, for which he has had unrestricted access to her papers. It will be released by Macmillan on 18 September and will run to more than 1,100 pages.
Other British royal biographies this autumn will be Ann Somerset on Queen Anne (HarperPress, 2 November) and Josephine Duggan on her heir, the Electress Sophia of Hanover (Peter Owen, 1 November). The Royal Collection will publish The Royal Portrait: Image and Impact by Jennifer Scott on 5 October and a few days earlier Allen Lane will release Dominic Lieven’s latest book, Russia against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814.
Ilana Miller’s The Four Graces: Queen Victoria’s Hessian Granddaughters has been postponed by the publisher Eurohistory for the umpteenth time – it now says December but it has become a habit that once the publication date is near, it is postponed for several more months, so this is likely to happen again. In the meantime Miller, under the pseudonym Theresa Sherman, has had time to write a novel based on her own book, The Royal Mob, which was published earlier this year.


  1. My pleasure. Fresh perspectives on some of history's "established truths" are always welcome, even though they may not always be popular with everyone. I wish you luck!

  2. Sorry about the constant delay, but I think there might be light at the end of the tunnel at last!!!

    Ilana Miller


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