Books

The New Encyclopedia of Brighton

Twenty years after the original Encyclopaedia of Brighton was published, the fascinating, informative and entertaining New Encyclopaedia of Brighton, published in June 2010, written by acclaimed biographer Rose Collis combines the best of the original text with hundreds of new subjects, starting with ‘Abattoirs’ and ending with ‘Zap Club’. In between are sections that reflect the town’s rich, diverse and quirky history, as well as the many changes that have occurred in the last two decades. Whether read for fun, education or reference, the New Encyclopaedia of Brighton is the definitive book about Brighton.

 

The New Encyclopedia of Brighton by Rose Collis
Colonel Barker’s Monstrous Regiment

On April 15, 1929, a few months after Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness was booed, banned and burned, a trial concluded at the Old Bailey with the sentencing of Colonel Victor Barker to nine months imprisonment. For Colonel Barker was, in fact, a woman. Six years earlier, as Col Sir Victor Barker, Valerie Lilias Arkell Smith had married Elfrida Hayward in St Peter’s Church, Brighton. Her trial, which became one of the most scandalous news stories of the decade, led to her imprisonment, but on her release she once again assumed life as a man and her life thereafter went from tragedy to fame and back to tragedy again. This is her story.

 

Colonel Barker's Monstrous Regiment by Rose Collis
Coral Browne: ‘This Effing Lady’

Described by Alan Bates as ‘mischievous, alarming, unpredictable and outrageous’, the indomitable Coral Browne towered over the British and American stage for nearly half a century.

In This Effing Lady, Rose Collis draws upon interviews with friends and family, including Victoria Price, Prunella Scales, Eileen Atkins, Ned Sherrin, Sheridan Morley and Liza Goddard, and a wealth of archive material and previously unpublished correspondence between Coral and Alec Guinness, Vincent Price, Guy Burgess, John Schlesinger, Alan Bates, Alan Bennett and many others, to produce an immaculately researched and correspondingly witty account of the life of a remarkable and truly original star.

 

Coral Browne by Rose Collis
A Trouser-Wearing Character: Life and Times of Nancy Spain

When Nancy Spain died in a plane crash in 1964, aged 47, with her partner, Joan Werner Laurie, she was at the height of a brilliant media career. A famous all-media celebrity of the time, she was a seasoned journalist and writer – with over 10 camp and frothy crime novels to her name. She later moved into radio and TV, quickly becoming an established panelist on “Juke Box Jury” and “What’s My Line?” as well as a knowledgeable and lively contributor to “Woman’s Hour”. In this revealing biography, Rose Collis rediscovers Nancy Spain’s public and private life and therein creates an account of an exceptional woman.

Nancy Spain by Rose Collis
Brighton Boozers

A lighthearted look at the social history of pubs, taverns and alehouses, past and present, in the town dubbed the “Queen of Watering Places”. The book explores the changing face of Brighton’s pub culture, from traditional street corner pubs to trendy bars and features chapters on the Temperance movement, gay pubs, breweries, haunted pubs, memorable characters, ‘dens of iniquity’ and how some pubs got their names.

 

Brighton Boozers by Rose Collis
k d lang

This insightful, eclectic and often witty ‘Outline’ explores kd lang’s career and life up to the end of the 1990s, placing her in the context of the social and political times that have influenced both author and subject. It shows how lang’s androgynously sexy image, her Canadian identity, her commitments to animal rights and the fight against AIDS, and her openness about her sexuality have all played their part in marking her out as both an an important and influential musician and lesbian icon.

 

k d lang by Rose Collis
Portraits to the Wall

Portraits to the Wall is a celebration of lesbian lives hitherto concealed by history. It rediscovers the lives and loves, consorts and concerns, passions and politics of a diverse range of women, from the long-suffering Queen Anne and the eccentric suffragist and composter Ethel Smyth, to the formidable Eve Balfour, founder of the Soil Association and nicknamed ‘The Compost Queen and Selma Lagerlof, the first woman ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

 

Portraits to the Wall by Rose Collis

Writer, Performer, Historian, Producer