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‘Provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life’ New York Times

‘Naughty Knickers version of our island story’ Daily Mail


Ladies in Waiting
chronicles the lives of famous and infamous ladies who served royalty, casting a fresh, intimate angle on four hundred years of monarchy.

For centuries, the most beautiful, able and aristocratic women in England competed for positions at court. Some who came to serve were remarkable for their learning and exemplary virtue, but others were notable for promiscuity and lack of scruple, drawn to court by a lust for money and power. Several ladies-in-waiting became royal mistresses, showing few qualms about betraying the queen consorts they ostensibly served. If bedding the King was not an option open to all, many ladies came to court in hope of finding husbands, only to succumb to constant assaults on their virtue or to find themselves denied permission by their sovereign to marry.

Drawing on an enormous variety of sources, Anne Somerset provides an illuminating guide to the character, profligate or pious, of each court.

Contained within the stories of the individual women is a consistently entertaining commentary on the manners, morals and shifting mentality of the royal, the rich, and the prominent throughout the centuries, resulting in social history at its most enjoyable and vibrant.


Anne Somerset's gossipy Ladies in Waiting provides a wealth of juicy anecdotal material about five centuries of court life from Henry VIII to Elizabeth II
New York Times
Extraordinarily enjoyable... Colourful and entertaining...A Naughty Knickers version of our island story
Daily Mail
A pleasing account of the upper-class ladies who slaved, suffered and starved in royal service
Sunday Times
An extremely informative and well-documented study that... because it is full of odd episodes and graphic portraits, will make admirable bedside reading
Sunday Telegraph
Lady Anne writes with perception, wit, candour and a confident authority
The Spectator
Well-written, well-researched and well-produced
Books and Bookmen
From four centuries of courtly life and love, Anne Somerset has compiled a sparkling history, lucidly written and of impeccable scholarship
Country Life
This delightful history of the distaff royal household is a perfect English set piece....This author has earned a lifetime post as a Lady of the Pen who can evoke the whisper of ruffled skirts on stone stairs and legendary candlelit faces through mullioned windows
Philadelphia Inquirer
The lives of these long-suffering women, raucously recounted in this immensely enjoyable book, offer an oblique, but very human, perspective on English history.
The Daily Telegraph
A fascinating reprint
The Spectator
'gossipy and entertaining history...full of fascinating details'