Cover image for The Spencers : a personal history of an English family
The Spencers : a personal history of an English family
Spencer, Charles Spencer, Earl, 1964-
Uniform Title:
Spencer family
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Physical Description:
xvi, 350 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), portraits (some color) ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London ; New York : Viking, 1999.
Personal Subject:
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA28.35.S69 S64 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The history of the Spencer family -- intimately linked with the British monarchy for more than 500 years -- is in many ways the history of England.In this fascinating account, Charles Spencer traces the story of his family from its days as a medieval sheep-farming dynasty to the present. Remarkable characters abound, from Henry Spencer, who gave Charles I the astonishing sum of pounds l0,000 on the eve of the English Civil War; through the Lady Diana Spencer who lived in the 18th century and did not marry the Prince of Wales; to the scandalous society beauty Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; and finally to the modern Diana, Princess of Wales.Using archives and documents previously unavailable and incorporating his own knowledge and experiences of the family, Charles Spencer has written an entertaining yet moving narrative that puts into vivid context the life of the most loved princess of 20th-century Britain.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this long-winded saga, Spencer (Althorp: The Story of an English House), the Ninth Earl Spencer and brother to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, guides us through the Spencer family's long history. Supposedly begun by Robert Despenser (steward to William the Conqueror) in 1066, the earliest ancestry of the Spencers remains in disputeÄbut there is no doubt that the family line goes at least as far back as the Middle Ages, when a series of wealthy landowners named John Spencer made a fortune herding sheep. Placing biographical portraits of family members against a carefully researched historical background, Spencer goes into the sort of excruciating detail that will interest only those with the most consuming interest in English aristocracy. There are, however, some compelling sections about those Spencers who raised themselves up through scandalous political scheming. Robert Spencer (1641-1702), the Earl of Sunderland, plotted to unseat King James II because the king was a Catholic, but after the scheme failed the unprincipled Robert converted to Roman Catholicism. Sarah Marlborough, related to the Spencers through marriage, had a long, colorful career of aggressively advancing her family's interests. But Spencer provides disappointingly little insight into the most famous Spencer of all time, Princess Diana. And although ably written and extensively researched, this book doesn't have enough of a narrative thread to keep the pages turning. B&w and color photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The ninth Earl Spencer has written an entertaining, informative history of his family. Admitting that "this book would have generated less interest" had his sister Diana not married the Prince of Wales, Spencer nonetheless manages not only to hold the reader's interest but to convey just how remarkable a family the Spencers were (and are). From the "widely hated" Robert Spencer, Second Earl of Sunderland, "known to be a man of the lowest possible moral calibre," to the Honourable George Spencer, who horrified many in his family by converting to Catholicism and becoming the saintly Father Ignatius, Spencer presents a "warts and all" view of his family. Making use of previously unavailable family documents, he does not discuss the private lives of his parents or his sisters, and readers expecting intimate details of Princess Diana's life will be disappointed. Spencer (Althorp: The Story of an English House) has a degree in modern history from Oxford. A nice complement to John Pearson's Blood Royal: The Story of the Spencers and the Royals (LJ 12/99), this volume is recommended for libraries that serve Anglophiles. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/00.]DElizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.