Category Archives: Biographies

The Borgias

The Borgias by Alexandre Dumas

The Borgias by Alexandre Dumas

Dumas’s ‘Celebrated Crimes’ was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language — has minced no words — to describe the violent scenes of a violent time.

In some instances facts appear distorted out of their true perspective, and in others the author makes unwarranted charges. The careful, mature reader, for whom the books are intended, will recognize, and allow for, this fact.

The first volume comprises the annals of the Borgias. The name of the noted and notorious Florentine family has become a synonym for intrigue and violence, and yet the Borgias have not been without stanch defenders in history.

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Being a Boy

Being a Boy by Charles Dudley Warner

Being a Boy by Charles Dudley Warner

Warner’s thoughtful and often humorous memoir of his life as a young farm-boy in Charlemont, Massachusetts.

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The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.

The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. by William Makepeace Thackeray

The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. by William Makepeace Thackeray

A classic Victorian novel and a historical novel rolled into one! Read about court and army life during the reign of Queen Anne – a story of Catholic – Protestant intrigue, and the party which aspired to the restoration of Bonny Prince Charlie. And, a good love story as well.

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Two Years in the Forbidden City

Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling

Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling

The author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. she became First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that capacity she received the impressions which provide the subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of friends, she consented to put some of her experiences into literary form, and the following chronicle, in which the most famous of Chinese women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, is a result.

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The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries

The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries by James J. Walsh

The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries by James J. Walsh

All the great issues, forces, and institutions of the thirteenth century are reviewed at generous length-the rise and character, the curricula, and the influences of the early universities; the steps taken towards popular education, both literary and technical; the development of letters; the great books and the great writers of the period; the Latin hymns of the church; Thomas Aquinas, Dante, the Golden Legend, the Romance of the Rose, Jocelyn de Brakelond, Matthew Paris, and Vincent of Beauvais; hospitals; famous women; Marco Polo and the story of geographical exploration; the systematization of law; and the beginnings of modern commerce.

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The Life of Cicero, Vol. 2

The Life of Cicero, Vol. 2 by Anthony Trollope

The Life of Cicero, Vol. 2 by Anthony Trollope

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC) was an orator, statesman, philosopher and prolific correspondent, who rose as a ‘new man’ in Rome in the turbulent last years of its republican government. Anthony Trollope, best known as a novelist, admired Cicero greatly and wrote this biography late in life in order to argue his virtues against authors who had granted him literary greatness but questioned his strength as a politician and as a man. He takes a personal approach, affording us an insight into his own mind and times as well as those of his subject.

This second volume of two covers his last years, BC 57-43 and the personal and political upheavals that surrounded them: the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, the death of his daughter Tullia, Caesar’s dictatorship and assassination, Cicero’s antagonism against Antony in the Philippics and his final struggle for the republic. Having used Cicero’s letters and speeches to guide his biography, Trollope treats his other works (what he terms ‘moral essays’, and works on philosophy and rhetoric), and his religious beliefs, in separate chapters at the end of this volume, to which is also appended his own translation of Cicero’s ‘Dream of Scipio’ from the De re publica.

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How I Found Livingstone

How I Found Livingstone by Sir Henry Morton Stanley

How I Found Livingstone by Sir Henry Morton Stanley

Sir Henry Morton Stanley is famously quoted for saying “Dr Livingstone, i Presume?”. Born in Wales, he migrated over to the United States at the age of 18, and eventually became an overseas correspondent for the New York Herald. In 1869 Stanley was told by James Gordon Bennett Jr to find Livingstone, a scottish missionary and explorer, who was lost in central Africa. When Stanley commented on the cost Bennett’s reply was: “Well, I will tell you what you will do. Draw a thousand pounds now; and when you have gone through that, draw another thousand, and when that is spent, draw another thousand, and when you have finished that, draw another thousand, and so on; but, FIND LIVINGSTONE.”

How I Found Livingstone is Stanley’s personnel account of his 8 month trip from Zanzibar to Lake Tanganyika on this quest, including time spent exploring the area with Livingstone.

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Around the World on a Bicycle – Volume 1

Around the World on a Bicycle - Volume 1 by Thomas Stevens

Around the World on a Bicycle – Volume 1 by Thomas Stevens

Thomas Stevens was the first person to circle the globe by bicycle, a large-wheeled Ordinary. His journey started in April 1884 in San Francisco from where he cycled to Boston to take a steamer to England. Crossing England, France, Central Europe and Asia Minor before he was turned back at the borders of Afghanistan. He returned part of the way to take a ship to Karachi, from where he crossed India. Another steam ship brought him from Calcutta to Hong Kong, and from Shanghai he set over to Japan, finally ending his journey after actually cycling 13.500 miles in Yokohama, December 1886.

This is the first volume of his travel experiences, detailing the part of the journey from San Francisco to Teheran, where he spent the winter.

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The Eventful History of H.M.S. Bounty

The Eventful History of H.M.S. Bounty by Sir John Barrow

The Eventful History of H.M.S. Bounty by Sir John Barrow

The mutiny on the Bounty occurred aboard a British Royal Navy ship on 28 April 1789. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against the commanding officer, William Bligh.

On 4 April 1789, after five months in Tahiti, the Bounty set sail with its breadfruit cargo. On 28 April 1789, some 1,300 miles west of Tahiti, near Tonga, mutiny broke out. From all accounts, Fletcher Christian and several of his followers entered Bligh’s cabin, which he always left unlocked, awakened him, and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt, where he was guarded by Christian holding a bayonet. When Bligh entreated with Christian to be reasonable, Christian would only reply, “I am in hell, I am in hell!”

The mutineers ordered Bligh, the ship’s master, two midshipmen, the surgeon’s mate, and the ship’s clerk into Bounty’s launch. Several more men voluntarily joined Bligh rather than remaining aboard, as they knew that those who remained on board would be considered de facto mutineers under the Articles of War. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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My Discovery of England

My Discovery of England by Stephen Leacock

My Discovery of England by Stephen Leacock

“In the course of time a very considerable public feeling was aroused in the United States and Canada over this state of affairs. The lack of reciprocity in it seemed unfair. It was felt (or at least I felt) that the time had come when some one ought to go over and take some impressions off England. The choice of such a person (my choice) fell upon myself. By an arrangement with the Geographical Society of America, acting in conjunction with the Royal Geographical Society of England (to both of whom I communicated my proposal), I went at my own expense.”

And from thence follow the impressions of Canadian political economist and humourist, Stephen Leacock, after a lecturing visit to England.

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