Black Diamonds The Downfall of an Aristocratic Dynasty and the Fifty Years That Changed England

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 12/30/2014
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
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From the New York Times–bestselling author of The Secret Rooms, the extraordinary true story of the downfall of one of England’s wealthiest families

Fans of Downton Abbey looking for fascinating, real-life stories of the spectacular lives led by England’s aristocrats need look no further. With the novelistic flair and knack for historical detail Catherine Bailey displayed in her New York Times bestseller The Secret Rooms, Black Diamonds is a page-turning chronicle of the Fitzwilliam coal-mining dynasty and their breathtaking Wentworth estate, the largest private home in England. Taking place during the same time period as the current season of Downton Abbey, Black Diamonds chronicles the vast changes that swept through England in the first half of the 20th century. 

When the sixth Earl Fitzwilliam died in 1902, he left behind the second largest estate in twentieth-century England, valued at more than £3 billion of today’s money—a lifeline to the tens of thousands of people who worked either in the family’s coal mines or on their expansive estate. The earl also left behind four sons, and the family line seemed assured. But was it? As Bailey retraces the Fitzwilliam family history, she uncovers a legacy riddled with bitter feuds, scandals (including Peter Fitzwilliam’s ill-fated affair with American heiress Kick Kennedy), and civil unrest as the conflict between the coal industry and its miners came to a head. Once again, Bailey has written an irresistible and brilliant narrative history.

Author Biography

Catherine Bailey studied history at Oxford University and is an award-winning television producer and director of critically acclaimed documentary films inspired by her interest in twentieth-century history. She lives in London.

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