`An exemplary work of investigative journalism that is also a wonderfully colourful book of history and travel' Observer, Book of the Year `A piece of postmodern historiography of quite extraordinary sophistication and ingenuity... [written with] exceptional delicacy and restraint' TLS The fabled city of Timbuktu has captured the Western imagination for centuries. The search for this `African El Dorado' cost the lives of many explorers but Timbuktu is rich beyond its legends. Home to many thousands of ancient manuscripts on poetry, history, religion, law, pharmacology and astronomy, the city has been a centre of learning since medieval times. When jihadists invaded Mali in 2012 threatening destruction to Timbuktu's libraries, a remarkable thing happened. A team of librarians and archivists joined forces to spirit the precious manuscripts into hiding. Based on new research and first-hand reporting, Charlie English expertly tells this story set in one of the world's most fascinating places, and the myths from which it has become inseparable.
A detailed examination of a distinctive group of female religious communities, founded by royal families in Anglo-Saxon England, this title shows that the fortunes of the nunneries were inextricably linked with those of the royal families who were their patrons. It explores how they often had to reconcile potentially conflicting demands from the secular and ecclesiastical worlds and looks at the opportunities the nunneries provided for royal women to exercise the types of public power and authority that in the early middle ages were often the preserve of men. Within the royal family nexus, entry into the church was a gendered role performed by its women and an option that was not generally available to royal males. As a result some remarkable women were able both to run major religious houses and to intervene in contemporary family politics. All too often the roles of such women in church and state have been underplayed in conventional ecclesiastical and political histories; this title hopes to restore some of the respect that these powerful women undoubtedly enjoyed in their own lifetimes.