'The definitive biography' Roy Strong
The remarkable story of Bess of Hardwick, her ascent through Elizabethan society and the houses she built that shaped British architectural history.
Born in 1521, Bess of Hardwick, businesswoman, money-lender and property tycoon, lived an astonishing eighty-seven years. Through canny choices, four husbands and a will of steel she rose from country squire's daughter to Dowager Countess, establishing herself as one of the richest and most powerful women in England, second only to Queen Elizabeth.
Bess forged her way not merely by judicious marriage, but by shrewd exploitation of whatever assets each marriage brought. Wealth took concrete form in her passion for building and she oversaw every stage of the construction of her four houses including Hardwick New Hall, her sole surviving building, which stands as a celebration of one woman's triumphant progress through Elizabethan England.
'A dynamic portrait of Bess's life...' BBC History Magazine