The Beauty’s Story – Lillie Langtry

Jersey: The Hidden Histories is an ideal Christmas present for anyone who loves the history of this beautiful Island. I was delighted that the story of Lillie Langtry was reprinted in this month’s Our Island magazine, which reaches nearly 16,000 homes in Jersey across several parishes. The drama and energy of the Victorian age has passed into deep history, but the legend of its greatest beauty will not fade.

Lillie Langtry by Millais (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Lillie Langtry by Millais (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

“She rose like Venus from the foam, a rare jewel of grace chipped from the rough granite of her homeland. She was born Emilie le Breton, they say, a Dean’s daughter from the Channel Island of Jersey, best known for its lowing cows and sturdy potatoes. From this unpromising turf, and after a marriage into minor money, she burst like a hurricane upon the London season.

Her alabaster shoulders; her divine chin, her strikingly short hair; she was an angle clad in a simple black dress. Men were stupefied and their wives could merely seethe and cringe. Before long great artists were scrambling to idolise her, her photographs were hawked on every street corner; men would scramble onto chairs or queue for hours merely to catch a passing glimpse of perfection”.

From Jersey: The Hidden Histories by Paul Darroch (c) 2015




Jersey The Hidden Histories – News from the book launch


I am pleased my talk at the inaugural Jersey Festival of Words was so well received. I also enjoyed my interview on BBC Radio Jersey today with Sarah Bailey discussing Jersey: The Hidden Histories. This Saturday 17 October 2015, a book signing will be taking place from 11am to 2pm at Waterstone’s on Queen Street, St Helier. This venue is particularly evocative as this is just a short walk from Royal Square, where the Battle of Jersey unfolded in 1781. The cover of Jersey: The Hidden Histories is of course a detail from Copley’s masterful and compelling painting of this event.

Jersey - The Hidden Histories

Let me set the scene as de Rullecourt’s armies make silent landfall in that bitter winter of 1781…

“Midnight has come and St Helier lies dumbstruck under the heart-stopping spell of a freezing January night. The foul breath of the Jersey winter congeals on the lintels of a hundred homes, its raw bite insinuating itself deep into the wood, the harbinger of a cold and bitter morning. The embers of their dying fires throw a smoky orange pall over the deserted streets where the good townsfolk of St Helier simper fitfully in their flea-ridden beds. The skies high above them blaze fiercely with the icy blue stars of winter…”

(From Jersey: The Hidden Histories (c) Paul Darroch 2015. Available at Amazon UK and booksellers in Jersey, Channel Islands)



Jersey: The Hidden Histories – Festival Talk

Excited to be speaking at the inaugural Connections – Jersey Festival of Words next week on my new book, Jersey: The Hidden Histories. I look forward to sharing some “immersive history”, discussing the creative writing process and answering some questions during the talk at Jersey Museum.

Here’s my publisher’s summary of the book:

“Panoramic in scope, Jersey: The Hidden Histories is a spellbinding journey into the life and times of this entrancing Island. It is painted on a canvas that stretches from the primeval hunters crossing the tundra to the arrival of the first aeroplane in the magical summer of 1912, on the eve of the Great War.

Imaginative and vibrant, this is history seen through the eyes of those who witnessed it; an unknown Charlie Chaplin exploding onto the stage of the Jersey Opera House; Queen Victoria travelling to Gorey Castle in the sultry September heat; Sir Walter Raleigh strutting into the States Chamber. This is the story of Karl Marx supping in St Helier; the fugitive King Charles II seeking sanctuary in his loyal Island, and Lillie Langtry treading the boards in her prime.

Jersey: The Hidden Histories is the biography of an Island perched on the frontier between clashing kingdoms, brimming with a rich cast of iconic characters. Paul Darroch brings history vividly to life, as the narrative sweeps from the green parishes of home to the distant shores where a New Jersey would be born”.

The book is available from Seaflower Books, Amazon UK and a wide variety of book retailers in Jersey.