Spring reads: The best new books about Britain

Spring books
A book shop in Hay on Wye, Powys, Wales. ©VisitBritain / Britain on View

Curl up with a cup of tea and one of these six great new books, hand-picked for you by the Discover Britain team…

1. Yorkshire by Richard Morris
England’s largest county is, as its proud residents are wont to tell you, bigger than many EU countries. Summing it up is an impossible task, so archaeology professor Richard Morris aims for a more selective dig into local history. He begins with an old family photo taken in Scarborough and taking in stories as wide-ranging as Whitby’s whaling industry and Barnsdale Forest’s claims on the legend of Robin Hood. (Orion, £25)

2. The Debatable Land by Graham Robb
The wild and remote countryside that straddles the Anglo-Scottish border has bore witness to some of the bloodiest battles in British history. Ancient maps and lengthy bike rides are used as the starting points for a lively retelling of the forgotten history of this once hotly-contested area. (Picador, £20)

3. Wallis in Love by Andrew Morton
Ever since his sensational 1992 biography of Diana, Princess of Wales, Andrew Morton has specialised in books about glamorous, fascinating yet misunderstood characters, from Angelina Jolie to Monica Lewinsky. His latest take on Wallis Simpson, the American divorcée for whom Edward VIII abdicated the British throne, is richly detailed and strong on her apparent motivations. (Michael O’Mara, £20)

4. The Oldest House in London by Fiona Rule
Building work began on 41-42 Cloth Fair in 1613, and this alehouse that once traded as the Eagle & Child survived the Great Fire and the Blitz, making it the oldest surviving dwelling in the City of London. Historian Fiona Rule’s lively and detailed account pitches the stories of Cloth Fair’s many former residents against the key events of each era. (History Press, £20)

5. Writing Britain’s Ruins by (ed.) Michael Carter, Peter N Lindfield and Dale Townshend
During the Georgian era, the Gothic Revival occurred saw artists, architects and writers embrace a more romantic, fanciful style. It sparked renewed interest in Britain’s many medieval relics. Eighteen are explored in depth here, from the politically significant Beaumaris Castle to the Byron-inspiring Newstead Abbey. (British Library, £30)

6. Unseen London by Rachel Segal Hamilton
This portfolio of 25 contemporary photographers’ perspectives on London is every bit as vast, diverse and fascinating as the city itself. Highlights include Giacomo Brunelli painting Westminster as if it were a 1940s film noir location, Matt Stuart’s witty and impromptu observations on the city streets, and Andy Sewell’s bucolic vision of Hampstead Heath. (Hoxton Mini Press, £26)


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