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Cavalier: The Story of a 17th Century Playboy [Paperback]

Lucy Worsley
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

4 Sep 2008
William Cavendish, courageous, cultured and passionate about women, embodies the popular image of a cavalier. Famously defeated at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, he went into a long and miserable continental exile before returning to England in triumph on the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660. Lucy Worsley brings to life a fascinating household of the seventeenth century, painting a picture of conspiracy, sexual intrigue, clandestine marriage and gossip. From Ben Jonson and Van Dyck to a savage, knife-wielding master-cook, Cavalier is a brilliant illumination of the stately home and all its many colourful inhabitants.

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Cavalier: The Story of a 17th Century Playboy + Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court + If Walls Could Talk: An intimate history of the home
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (4 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057122704X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571227044
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House in Whitehall and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. (Yes, this is a fabulous job, but no, you can't have it. Bribes have been offered, and refused.)

Her first paid employment after studying history at Oxford was at a minor stately home called Milton Manor, near Abingdon, where she fed the llamas. After that she became an Inspector of Ancient Monuments at English Heritage, doing historical research at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire: this led to her first book, 'Cavalier', about a dissolute Royalist duke. Her work as a curator at Kensington Palace led to 'Courtiers', and taking part in a BBC TV series on the history of houses resulted in her most recent book, 'If Walls Could Talk, An Intimate History of the Home'.

Do please visit for lots more information, and for Lucy's blog.

Product Description


Cavalier is one 'of my favourite September reads.' -- Sue Baker, Personal Choice, Publishing News

`Enthralling ... Worsley's powerful imagination focuses with great effect on the settings that she evokes with bright and telling detail'. -- Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times

`Every detail of Cavendish's universe comes to life ... fascinating'.
-- Publishers Weekly

`Marvellous ... a tour de force of the historic imagination, aligned to impeccable scholarship'. -- Sir Roy Strong

`Worsley's strength is her sense of period, and her ability to bring people to life.' -- Charles Spencer, Independent on Sunday --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Lucy Worsley, the chief curator of the Historic Royal Palaces, tells a story packed with conspiracy, sexual intrigue and gossip.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Having just visited Bolsover Castle,(A wonderfully evocative place with a superb guide book written by Lucy Worsley.) I was very keen to read Ms Worsley's book. Having been captivated by the castle, I wanted to know much more about the man, William Cavendish, grandson of Bess of Hardwick, who created, and lived at this astonishingly beautiful and romantic place.
Ms Worsley has written a brilliant biography of not just the man, but of the houses he inhabited with his household, and of his trials and tribulations. Ms Worsley manages to bring William Cavendish vividly to life with frequent quotations from his letters and poetry.(Is there a book of his poetry?)As if this was not enough Ms Worsley also manages to inform and educate about the period, which is at times amusing and at ohers sad. I smiled, I laughed, I even shed a tear. One review I read said "The intriguing personality of the man.......glimmers, flickers-but never quite glows into life." For me William Cavendish did not glimmer, flicker,or glow he positively burned brightly. For anyone interested in the Cavendish dynasty or history. I commend Ms Worsley's book whole heartedly. I would be astonished if you were disappointed.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new type of architectural history 2 Oct 2007
I thought that this book was absolutely fantastic. It must be very hard to bring architecture to life in words but Ms Worsley does this brilliantly.
The approach of taking a few days in Cavendish's life and structuring the book around this is so much better than a boring and traditional chronology of events.
Ms Worsley seems to be one of a new generation of historians who understands peoples real lives- I look foward to reading her next book!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read! 10 Sep 2008
Even if you're not a historian you'll enjoy this book. And if you are a historian, you'll appreciate the detailed research that underpins it. The story, the lively writing style and the crazy cast of real characters just won't let you go. Bolsover Castle is certainly the place to visit after reading the book - think of it as the original party palace! I've just bought the paperback after reading the hardback in the library. More please Lucy Worsley!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The title is inviting but I did not expect the page turner the book proved to be.
Lucy Worsley takes us into the world of the First Duke of Newcastle with such energy and gusto and descriptive detail that the whole era comes to life.
Having read the book I just had to go to Bolsover castle, a place I had visited several times but apparently with my eyes closed.
Lucy's great gift is to enter the lives not only of the "great and the good" but the ordinary people who surrounded them and worked for them.
The book is full of wonderful anecdotes. It is clearly well researched as it is based on a PhD,it is authoritative and so well referenced that one can easily follow up any further interest, but above all it is FUN.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cavalier 2 Jun 2009
By Paola
Cavalier by Dr Lucy Worsley was a very entertaining read.William Cavendish was really brought to life.Many interesting aspects of living upstairs and downstairs in his beautiful houses and at the Court of Charles I were touched.He was a man of many facets;his poetry, horsemanship ,love for architecture and women and military career were described in a lively and witty manner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and informative tale. 2 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lucy Worsley has again written a book that could have been oh-so-dry but was actually fascinating. Her story, mainly about William Cavendish, describes the family buildings at Bolsover Castle and Welbeck Abbey in a way that is informative and engaging. A famous horse trainer, he becomes the Cavalier of the title. It covers the period of Charles I through the Civil War and on to the Restoration, including William's exile from Britain.

I really did want to know what these people ate at banquets, the protocol of a Royal visit, how the servants were treated, etc., and was not disappointed. William, with his strengths and many failings, was an interesting subject.
I really enjoyed Worsley's book 'Courtiers', and this was just as engrossing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable fascinating read 21 Aug 2011
By Strawb
I Loved this book. I found every page a fascinating joy to read.
From the language used to smells induced, this is as close as you'll get to using a TARDIS for that hands on feel to history.
Told with such enthusiasm, wicked wit, detail and knowledge.
Lucys love of her subject is infectious, taking you with her into the into the minds and hearts of a 17th Century Cavalier and ALL who surround him. While also giving you a Full running commentary on the great homes that grew around the central charachter.
The detail which Lucy has gone into for this 'novel' is pristine. Hardly a hat pin is overlooked, nor a roof tile forgot. She puts you in the room and let's you know why you're there, how you got there and makes you totaly welcome.
Utterly recommended.
My thanks to previous reviews that inspired my purchase!
They were Right!
Buy, Read, Love it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of interesting facts 8 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Those who have seen Dr Lucy Worsley's many television programmes will know how brilliant she is at dropping little bits of information into her explanations and she does the same in this book. Did you know that, in Restoration England, lettuce was considered bad for the brain or that garlic should not be eaten by ladies (or those who wish to court them)? The first is more surprising than the second, perhaps! A thoroughly enjoyable read - thank you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Lucy
We are all great fans of the lovely Lucy Worsley and this is another excellent book. I knew nothing about Bolsover Castle before but now have been to see it I understand how she... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mike Evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting people and places
Packed with detail and written in a accessible style, this book gives a fascinating insight into the life of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, and his household. Read more
Published 5 months ago by C. Colley
3.0 out of 5 stars snapshots
'Cavalier' follows the life of William Cavendish by a series of 'snapshots' of his life at different moments, e.g. Read more
Published 11 months ago by M. Baerends
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read from an accomplished and engaging historian!
As always, the author puts forward a mass of information on the man and the times. I would recommend this book thoroughly.
Published 11 months ago by L. K. D. SULLIVAN
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the most interesting book she's written
It's good, but the first person narrative is quite condescending. The constant changing between this style and the normal descriptive prose makes the book (to my mind) difficult... Read more
Published 14 months ago by ERV Scott
1.0 out of 5 stars TAKING A LONGER VIEW
Although no-one expects 20:20 hindsight from anyone,and judging an author by unforeseen developments would be harsh,Lucy`s work is often so exceptional that unusual levels of... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Del Francis
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a laughing Cavalier!
When i bought Cavalier i didn't expect the book to arrive as quick as it did. It was in good order and i am finding it a brilliant read...Thanks!
Published on 19 Nov 2010 by Phillip
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