Polly Stenham is a great friend of mine, but I began as a giddy fan of her plays — witty, pain-drenched character studies. Polly is wise far beyond her years, and her plays gained her prodigy status in the London theater world. Even if theater isn't your thing, Polly's plays are as smooth and pleasurable to read as well-crafted short stories. I suggest you start with That Face and move on to Tusk Tusk, ending with her latest No Quarter. You'll feel enriched and accomplished, rebellious and very alive.
Until now, Queen Victoria's legacy had been warped by her children and her first male biographers. According to Julia Baird, in a kicky, engrossing, deeply researched new bio of the long-serving British Queen, the two men who edited Victoria's correspondence removed political criticisms, took out "vulgar" language, and "particularly sharp or terse opinions which the Queen held were downplayed so that she might seem feminine and innocent. Her correspondence with women was omitted in order to avoid triviality." Baird's bio offers a firm corrective, and the Queen Victoria who emerges from this portrait is head-strong, passionate, and fierce.