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E. E. P. Tisdall (1907–1977)

Autor(a) de I was a spy!

12 Works 82 Membros 3 Reviews

About the Author

Obras de E. E. P. Tisdall


Conhecimento Comum

Nome padrão
Tisdall, E.E.P.
Nome de batismo
Tisdall, Evelyn Ernest Percy
Data de nascimento
Data de falecimento



I was intrigued by the biography of Charlotte Atkyns, an eighteenth century actress turned lady of the manor and equal parts fantasist, and bought an orange-jacketed copy on eBay. When I started reading, however, her story seemed very familiar and I realised that Milady Charlotte by Jean Plaidy is based on the same woman! And I still own a copy of the novel. I could have saved myself the time and money spent on this rather florid and equally fictional account of an eccentric embellisher who wasted all her husband's money on chasing the ghost of the French Dauphin.

'I have been grieved to find that we have been deceived most completely. I was not able to see the unfortunate child who was born to rule over us. He was not saved. The regicides, having first, like the monsters they are, allowed him to languish in his prison, brought about his end there. He never left it. Just reflect how we have all been duped. I don't know how it is that, without having ever received my letters, you are still labouring under this delusion.'

In the 1780s, Irish singer and dancer Charlotte Walpole married Edward Atkyns of Ketteringham Hall, Norfolk, but was unhappy with her rural stately home and marital wealth following a glamorous rise to fame on the stage. After developing an unhealthy passion for the French Court, Charlotte dragged her husband with her to Versailles, where she reportedly met and enchanted Marie Antoinette. When the Revolution began, and the King and Queen were forced to live in Paris and then put on trial for trying to escape, Charlotte was determined to save her royal friend. Then, after the Queen was executed, Charlotte's obsession switched to rescuing the Dauphin from the Temple prison, where DNA testing has since proved that he died in 1795. For years, however, there were a series of pretenders to the throne, and Charlotte always believed that the little prince had been saved, thanks to the thousands she threw at French 'agents' who promised to rescue him. But like the letter from Charlotte's lover states above, she was at best deceived and swindled. Or she was just severely unhinged and a complete fantasist, acting out a more fanciful version of her own, already exotic life story. This should be a novel, I hear you cry! It is, and better written than this!

Tisdall based his account of her life on a packet of letters discovered a century after Charlotte's death by a previous biographer, Frederic Barbey. Both histories require equally large leaps of imagination, however, and Tisdall's book is riddled with muddled dates and a strange insistence, soon to quashed forever, that his subject could have been onto something with her pursuit of the 'truth' about the Dauphin.

I did learn a few new tidbits - that Richmond upon Thames was a 'colony' for French emigres after the Revolution, for instance (I wonder if Baroness Orczy knew that?) - but ultimately there is too much padding and postulating around the scant set of facts based upon Charlotte's letters, including whole chapters about Charlotte's French lover and the men who cheated her out of thousands. Her husband and son both died young from consumption, she lost nearly all of her money and the Ketteringham estate, and died alone in France with a reputation for being an eccentric English milady. Even her adopted heir gave up on her and moved to Australia with his mother. A life well lived but I'm not sure how much of Charlotte's claim to fame is actually true!
… (mais)
AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 14, 2021 |
A remarkable, and dare I say under-rated, account of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny - written by the wife of a cavalry officer. Drawing on contemporaneous sources (Mrs Duberly's Journal and letters home, E E P Tisdall sketches a lively first person account. That a woman was able to live and experience close action in the Crimea, the more so in India at the height of a major rebellion, is staggering - but Fanny Duberly's descripton of events is compelling - not one to mince her words, she saw the slaughter, the miserable conditions endured by the army (cold and rain in the Crimes, searing heat in India), and the health problems of cholera, dysentery and the rest.… (mais)
DramMan | Jul 8, 2021 |
This is the account of Marthe Cnockaert (later Marthe McKenna), a Belgian nursing student who ended up becoming a spy for the Allies during the First World War. Her position as a nurse at the hospital and her family’s ownership of a well-frequented cafe made her ideally placed to find out information that the Allies needed to win the war. She was even given the Iron Cross by the Germans for her bravery in treating the soldiers, which boosted her trust factor further.

Marthe tells her story with verve and candour, including the account of how she was finally caught. The book reads like an adventure story, except that it happened in real life. Winston Churchill, in his foreword to this book, states that he was up until 4 a.m. finishing this book, and it’s easy to see how that could happen. This is recommended for people interested in learning more about the First World War on the home front, and about resourceful women during this period.… (mais)
rabbitprincess | May 27, 2018 |


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