The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England

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National Portrait Gallery, 1998 - Art - 176 pages
Starting with Celtic Britain before the Roman invasion, David Williamson takes us through the establishment of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the coming of Christianity and unification of England, to the Norman Conquest in 1066. The subsequent dynastic struggles of Angevins and Plantagenets heralded the great age of English kingship, under the Tudors and Stuarts - a period as compelling as any in the country's history - before the Hanoverians ushered in the modern age and the royalty of today.
The author draws on his deep knowledge of history to paint a vivid and sensitive portrait of each monarch, dealing afresh with the controversies that surround them. His text is enlivened with anecdotes and complemented by a rich selection of images, largely chosen from the wealth of the National Portrait Gallery's collections, and by clear family trees.

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BC to AD 871
The AngloSaxons and Danes 16
The Angevins

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About the author (1998)

The author of 15 plays, as well as numerous screen and television scripts, David Williamson is certainly Australia's most prolific playwright. He is also the country's most popular dramatist and the one best known abroad. Finally, most critics and general theatergoers would agree that he is the best playwright Australia has produced so far. Although his screenplays move into areas outside Australia, the plays remain fixed in his native land. Always well received in Australia, they have also been successful in Europe and the United States. Williamson's greatest achievement, then, lies in the way he makes universal that experience peculiar to Australians. Born in a small town near Melbourne, Williamson did not appear destined for a theatrical career. While majoring in engineering in college, he began writing for campus productions, and soon turned to a career as a playwright. Not particularly experimental, each play is marked by firm structure, exact sense of place, vivid language, satire, and comedy. These elements cohere to reveal believable characters facing often ordinary conflicts. Their responses are sometimes mundane and muddled, and rarely does a resolution take place. Among his works of the 1970s, The Removalists (1971) uses techniques of theater of cruelty. The plot revolves around police violence against individuals as a metaphor for gratuitous violence in society. Don's Party (1971) reveals the public and personal frustrations of a group of professional men and women at an election day party. In The Coming of Stork, a group of educated, urban young men and women seek their places in the social structure. The adverse role the Vietnam War played in Australian society is depicted in Jugglers Three, while What If You Died Tomorrow dramatizes the effect of fame on marriage and family relationships. Later plays include Travelling North (1980), The Perfectionist (1982), Sons of Cain (1985), Emerald City (1987), and Top Silk (1990). Williamson has addressed a number of themes, many relevant to Australian society and to cultures in other parts of the world. Yet his plays are never didactic; they entertain first, and then challenge the viewer. Insisting that his work is naturalistic, Williamson does indeed create a very real picture of life. Always, though, the reality is tempered by comedy and by a sympathetic attitude toward the characters inhabiting the imaginary world of the stage---a world in which viewers at times see themselves and their own foibles exposed.

About the Editor:
Malcolm Rogers is Deputy Director of the National Portrait Gallery of Great Britain.

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