Catherine Bailey's Black Diamonds is an extraordinary tale of family feuds, forbidden love, civil unrest and the downfall of a mining dynasty.
Wentworth in Yorkshire was surrounded by 70 collieries employing tens of thousands of men. It is the finest and largest Georgian house in Britain andbelonged to the Fitzwilliam family.
It is England's forgotten palace which belonged to Britain's richest aristocrats. Black Diamonds tells the story of its demise: family feuds, forbidden love, class war, and a tragic and violent death played their part. But coal, one of the most emotive issues in twentieth century British politics, lies at its heart.
This is the extraordinary story of how the fabric of English society shifted beyond recognition in fifty turbulent years in the twentieth century.
'Magnificent . . . peels back the grand facade of Wentworth toreveal a family riven with fueds, mental illness and forbidden love' Tatler
'A compelling new history . . . fascinating insights into the dynasty that once ruled this Yorkshire roost' Daily Mail
'An aristocratic tale of epic proportions, this gripping novel cleverly interweaves interviews, letters and historical fact . . .Fascinating' Easy Living
Catherine Bailey read history at Oxford University. She is a successful, 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 Black Diamonds and The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery. She lives in West London.
"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
"Engrossing...Bailey covers a wide canvas with panache" - The Times Literary Supplement
"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