This book offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of life in some of Britain’s greatest country houses that were occupied by people who would never otherwise have set foot in such opulent surroundings. Blenheim Palace was taken over by schoolboys who slept in the Long Library; Polish special agents trained in the grounds of Audley End House and learned to forge and lie their way into occupied Europe in the old nursery. Brocket Hall, former home of Queen Victoria’s favourite Lord Melbourne, was used as a maternity home for women from the East End of London and the Rothschild’s magnificent French chateau-inspired Waddesdon Manor, housed a hundred children under five. The Northern Highlands, where the fierce warriors of Scotland’s past developed their unconventional military skills, played host to the most extreme form of warfare training agents in the fine arts of sabotage, subterfuge and assassination. There are Poles, Czechs, French, Dutch, Norwegian and Germans nestled in these pages. Some good, some bad, some just plain evil – but all fascinating in one way or another.
Julie Summers was born near Liverpool and grew up first on the Wirral and then in Cheshire. Although the greater part of her childhood was spent outside pursuing any number of outdoor activities, she always wanted to be a writer. For the first twenty years of life after university she worked in the art world but was drawn inexorably towards writing. Finally, in 2004, she gave up her job and began writing full time. She is passionate about writing and loves researching for her books, especially when it involves meeting people and talking to them about their lives. When asked why she is so fascinated by the Second World War, her answer is that it is not war that interests her but the way people coped. She writes in a little study in the attic of her house with one of the best views in Oxford – the dreaming spires seen from Iffley. She writes in the mornings and finds the problem is not sticking to the routine but tearing herself away from writing at the end of the day. Her companions are two Border Terriers who keep her entertained and fit. She describes herself as a biographer and historian, but most important of all – a story teller.
Our Uninvited Guests was published by Simon & Schuster in March 2018
Date: Saturday, 19th May
Venue: Bishop Heber School, Malpas, SY14 8JD
Time: 1.30pm – 3.00pm
Ticket Price: £7.50