Annette Rubery: Books

Works in progressLichfield book
Oil portrait of Peg Woffington by Van Loo, canary flying over left shoulder

The Female Rake: Peg Woffington’s Scandalous Life on the Georgian stage

The Female Rake tells the story of an actress’s progress from an ‘18th-century Nell Gwyn’ to a heroine of sentimental tragedy. The notorious Peg Woffington was a beauty, wit, courtesan, and one of the best-loved comic actresses of the eighteenth century. Acclaimed for playing high-born women, she also cornered the market in cross-dressed portrayals of soldiers, rakes and men of fashion. Off-stage her lovers were among the most influential figures of the age, including its most famous actor, David Garrick.

In the first biography of Peg for half a century, Annette Rubery mixes the sweat and greasepaint of Georgian Dublin theatreland with a wider perspective on the roles that bolder women in that era could choose to adopt, and charts Peg’s progress, fuelled by charisma, charm and fierce independence, out of the shame and penury of her origins into wealth, celebrity and, ultimately, myth.

Forthcoming with the Society for Theatre Research >> 

Shortlisted for the 2022 Tony Lothian Prize >>

Oil portrait of Peg Woffington by Van Loo, canary flying over left shoulder

Sir John Vanbrugh and the Making of Britain

This is the story of a group of rebels, visionaries and reformers who set out to unite Britain after the Glorious Revolution. It tells of political turmoil under the rule of Queen Anne, and how real wars led to culture wars between Britons who looked to Europe, and those who didn’t.

At the book’s centre is the playwright and architect, Sir John Vanbrugh. Born in 1664 to a family of Flemish origin, he served in the British armed forces, worked in the Far East, and was imprisoned as a spy in France. Made a Herald by Queen Anne and knighted by George I, he designed two of Britain’s most iconic buildings: Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace.

Much has been written about Vanbrugh’s architecture, but this is the first book to focus on his work in the theatre. With a formidable network – including the composer George Frideric Handel and the painter Canaletto – he brought flamboyant art-forms to Britain, and, through the power of his personality, changed the nation forever.

Annette Rubery: Lichfield Then & NowLichfield Then & Now

Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: The History Press Ltd (Nov 2012)
ISBN-10: 0752461133
ISBN-13: 978-0752461137

Lichfield Then & Now pairs 45 carefully chosen photographs from archives, postcards and private collections with 45 contemporary colour versions of the same views, providing a fascinating visual chronicle of the city’s progress. Compare the old layout of Lichfield’s streets – its shop-fronts, parks and pools – with the Lichfield of today and see for yourself the subtle march of time, even in this most historic of places. Lichfield Then & Now will delight all local historians and will awaken nostalgic memories for those who used to live or work there.

Annette Rubery signing Lichfield Then & Now

Sometimes, these Then and Now books don’t work and for a variety of reasons. That is not the case with this. I’ve lived in Lichfield for over 30 years and thought that over that time had got to know this small Cathedral City very well. However, the combination of photographs and narrative has made me aware of many things that I’ve either missed or simply was unaware.