Stella Tillyard is an English author and historian born on 16 January 1957, best known for the best-selling Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox, 1740–1832, which was made into a BBC mini-series in 1999.
From academic to novelist
British-born Stella Tillyard read English literature at Oxford University and then became a Knox Fellow at Harvard. She went on to teach English literature and art history at Harvard, and at UCLA. Her PhD on 20th-century art criticism, completed in 1985, was published as The Impact of Modernism in 1987. From 1985–86 she attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has taught at Harvard, UCLA, and the University of London. She lives in Italy and England, was married to the historian John Brewer, and has two children.
Her novel Tides of War, set in the Regency period, appeared in May 2011. The author discussed in a magazine article the challenges of veracity faced by a writer of history and likewise of a historical novel: "No writer (including the professional historian) can ever really get beyond the envelope of self.... Are historians providing the master narratives of our times and historical novelists merely tinkering around the edges?"
List of works
The bibliographical information is taken from the online biography.
- The Impact of Modernism, 1900–20: Visual Arts in Edwardian England (1988) ISBN 978-0-415-00281-3
- Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740–1832 (1995) ISBN 978-0-374-52447-0. Translations into Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Danish, French, Portuguese and German (1995–2000)
- Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald, 1763-98 (1997) ISBN 978-0-374-52589-7. Translation into Swedish (2000)
- A Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings (2006) ISBN 1-4000-6371-X. Translation into Danish
- Tides of War. A novel of the Peninsula War (2011) ISBN 0-7011-8317-9
Aristocrats was described as "compulsively readable" by The New York Times Book Review and "singular and remarkable" by The Washington Post A Royal Affair was described by The New York Times as "scrupulously researched," but "looking at history sentimentally." The Daily Telegraph (London) called Tides of War "a remarkably instructive novel" by "a fluent and attractive chronicler of historical detail," but added that "the responsibility of entwining fact and fiction has had a slightly dampening effect on Tillyard's novel."
- Sunday Telegraph, Jane Shilling, ‘Tillyard is a fluent and attractive chronicler of detail and some of her imaginative liberties are ingenious’
- Times, Angus Clarke: ‘hugely enjoyable… In its intelligent, classy, entertaining way, the book is reminiscent of that other fine novelist of the Napoleonic wars, Patrick O’Brian.’
- Woman & Home, Fanny Blake: ‘Love, betrayal, war and peace charge this powerful debut’
- FT, Amanda Foreman: ‘one of the most assured literary debuts in years… a modern novel that is the perfect answer to anyone who thinks the past is out of date.’
- Sunday Times, Lucy Atkins: ‘Tillyard writes in fluid, largely understated prose and her descriptions are wonderful’
- Telegraph, Toby Clements: ‘a perfectly sprung novel of the sort that owes more to Hilary Mantel and David Mitchell than Patrick O’Brian or Bernard Cornwall’
- Saga, Kate Saunders, ‘This saga of lives swept up in the Peninsular War recalls Georgette Heyer at her best’…’impossible to put down’
- Independent, Matthew Dennison, ‘Tides of War is elegantly written, with passages of verve and … poignancy’
- Prima, ‘A thrilling romance brought to life with exquisite detail’
- Debrett's: Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- Random House Australia: Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- Online biography: Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- Stella Tillyard: Tides of War. A novel of the Peninsula War (London: Chatto & Windus, 2011). ISBN 0-7011-8317-9.
- 'Historical fiction: Turning tides'. History Today 61:5, May 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. Her ideas were expressed more fully in a contribution to Writing Lives. Biography and textuality, identity and representation in early Modern England. Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker eds. (Oxford: OUP, 2008): Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- New York Times Book Review, 27 December 2006
- Telegraph review: Retrieved 8 May 2011.