Archive for August, 2008



Recent reviews of ‘Star of the Morning’

‘As Kirsten Ellis vividly shows, Hester Stanhope’s story is one of brave (and often foolhardy) triumph over the straitjacket of Regency attitudes and the even more hidebound conventions of Islamic society. Stanhope was the subject of a recent study … but Ellis has unearthed startling new aspects of this remarkable woman’s life, such as Hester’s relationships with no fewer than three Napoleonic spies. Ellis’s enthusiasm for her heroine makes Star Of The Morning a fascinating study with some trenchant points about the position of strong-minded women in male-dominated societies.’

Barry Forshaw, Daily Express, 29 August 2008 – Read full review here

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‘What is it about ‘the east’ that seems to attract powerful Englishwomen? … Each of them, however, was following in the footsteps of Lady Hester Stanhope, first among equals, and the subject of this spirited new biography … Star Of The Morning is a fascinating and atmospheric biography of a truly remarkable woman. Kirsten Ellis has left no stone unturned in this admirable book, doing some mean travelling of her own in the process’

Katie Hickman, The Daily Mail, 23 August 2008 – Read full review here

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‘Kirsten Ellis…is keen to take her subject out of the category of “benign but barking” to which single women travellers were often confined. The ground has been well covered in earlier works, but Ellis has unearthed fresh material, and retells the story with idiosyncratic panache… Ellis is a vivid narrator with an eye for detail: the perfumed dinners attended by naked female slaves; the dusk return of the swallows to the Umayyad mosque.’

Sara Wheeler, The Daily Telegraph, 23 August 2008 – Read full review here

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‘In Ellis’s account…we have a very different Hester Stanhope: a woman who has inherited the mantle of her Prime Minister forebears (William Pitt the Younger was her uncle; Pitt the Elder her grandfather), showing due leadership, courage under fire, and a mission to count in the imperial power games being played in the East.’

The Scotsman, 23 August 2008 – Read full review here

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‘An intense and readable biography…the exploits of headstrong proto-feminists in alien cultures make for good copy and perhaps, a good film. Ellis writes clearly and objectively…and refuses to be swayed by her subject’s emotional excesses… she is excellent on historical detail, particularly the interplay between international and local politics around the Mediterranean.’

Andrew Lycett, Literary Review, August 2008 – Download full review here

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Posted on August 28th, 2008 by Kirsten  |  No Comments »



Lady Hester Stanhope on Great Lives BBC Radio 4

Listen out for Deborah Meaden, of Dragon’s Den celebrity discussing her choice of Lady Hester Stanhope as her Great Life, in discussion with Matthew Parris and ‘expert witness’, Kirsten Ellis, on Great Lives, BBC Radio 4, to be aired in September.

Check the BBC Radio 4 wesbite for details.

Or check back again here for details of the listing to be posted.

Posted on August 18th, 2008 by Kirsten  |  No Comments »