William Cavendish, the father of the first Earl, dissolved monasteries for Henry VIII. Bess, his second wife, was gaoler-companion to Mary Queen of Scots during her long imprisonment in England. Arbella Stuart, their granddaughter, was a heartbeat away from the throne of England and their grandson, the Lord General of the North, fought to save the crown for Charles I.
With the help of previously unpublished material from the Chatsworth archives, The Devonshires reveals how the dynasty made and lost fortunes, fought and fornicated, built great houses, patronised the arts and pioneered the railways, made great scientific discoveries, and, in the end, came to terms with changing times.
Roy Hattersley was elected to Parliament in 1964. He served in Harold Wilson's government and in Jim Callaghan's Cabinet. In 1983 he became deputy leader of the Labour Party. As well as contributing to a host of national newspapers, he has written twenty-two books, including The Edwardians; Borrowed Time: the story of Britain between the wars; and In Search of England as well as much acclaimed biographies of John Wesley and, most recently, Lloyd George. Roy Hattersley has been Visiting Fellow of Harvard's Institute of Politics and of Nuffield College, Oxford. In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.