In celebration of International Women’s Day I’d like to write about one of my favourite television presenters – Dr Lucy Worsley. Historian, Chief Curator at Historic Palaces, author, and downright stylish lady. I’ve been a fan of her historical programmes (mainly shown on BBC FOUR, and also repeated on other channels occasionally like Yesterday).
Her presentation is always fresh and takes interesting angles such as the recent series ‘A Very British Murder’ – a series about, well, murder and ‘The curious story of how crime was turned to art’… (published by Faber & Faber 2014)
This is the story of a national obsession.
Ever since the Ratcliffe Highway Murders caused a nation-wide panic in Regency England, the British have taken an almost ghoulish pleasure in ‘a good murder’. This fascination helped create a whole new world of entertainment, inspiring novels, plays and films, puppet shows, paintings and true-crime journalism – as well as an army of fictional detectives who still enthrall us today. A Very British Murder is Lucy Worsley’s captivating account of this curious national obsession. It is a tale of dark deeds and guilty pleasures, a riveting investigation into the British soul by one of our finest historians.
‘Courtiers, The Secret History of the Georgians’ (published by Faber & Faber in June 2011):
In the eighteenth century, the palace’s most elegant assembly room was in fact a bloody battlefield. This was a world of skulduggery, politicking, wigs and beauty-spots, where fans whistled open like flick-knives…
‘If Walls Could Talk: an intimate history of the home’, (published by Faber & Faber in January 2012):
Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did Samuel Pepys never give his mistresses an orgasm? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? When were the two ‘dirty centuries’? Why did gas lighting cause Victorian ladies to faint? Why, for centuries, did people fear fruit?
It was at a talk on her latest title ‘A Very British Murder’ that I got to meet Dr Lucy, at the historic Connaught Theatre in Worthing, Sussex. I have been an admirer of her stylish fashion sense ever since I saw her on BBC Four. The combination of her elegant dresses with those fabulous collared coats and the little red leather gloves is a winner for me. She has style but doesn’t overstate it as some presenters do, the result is that the series is a pleasure to watch whilst having serious historical content. I like the way she has a slight historical approach to her clothes, hence the gloves which no lady would have been without in the eighteenth century, and also the way she seems to love the dressing-up parts of the programmes, getting into character with such enthusiasm.
I read an interesting article in the Guardian in September 2013 “What I see in the Mirror” (a regular Guardian feature), where she talks about what TV people have said about her, “You’re pretty, but not too pretty. That makes you approachable.” and “Lucy, your bad posture does not matter. You are an intellectual”. I think these comments sum up how I feel about her and make her series eminently watchable, as her books are readable. You can imagine my surprise when I met her and she said to me “I like your style”. That was a huge compliment from someone whom I admire so much!
For Dr Lucy’s official website go here: http://www.lucyworsley.com
Her books are available from all major booksellers.