Brand unveils lives of Marie Antoinette’s ladies-in-waiting for John Murray

Brand unveils lives of Marie Antoinette’s ladies-in-waiting for John Murray

John Murray has secured The Queen’s Favourites: The Tangled Lives of Marie Antoinette’s Ladies-in-Waiting by historian Emily Brand. 

Joe Zigmond, editorial director, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Kirsty McLachlan at Morgan Green Creatives, with US rights sold to Amy Cherry at Norton by Rebecca Wearmouth at PFD. 

Its synopsis explains: "The Queen’s Favourites is an intimate and original view of one of the most gripping, astonishing, and bloodthirsty episodes in Western history, told from the heart of Europe’s most exquisite royal court, its notorious queen, and her shimmering circle of ladies-in-waiting. Charting the rise and fall of Marie Antoinette’s treasured favourites – the sensitive Lamballe, the quick-thinking Campan and the pleasure-seeking Polignac – this group biography reveals the roles played by women in fuelling and ultimately falling victim to the popular call for revolution, and how violently it scattered them to very different fates.  

"Focusing for the first time in English on these interlaced stories, Emily Brand considers afresh the place of women, the power of the press, and narratives of female courage in the 18th century. "

Brand’s first book, The Fall of the House of Byron: Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England (John Murray) was published in hardback in 2020 and was selected as a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and shortlisted for the Elma Dangerfield Prize.  

Zigmond said: “Situating Marie Antoinette’s fall from grace amid the fortunes of her close female entourage, The Queen’s Favourites is a gripping account of how court intrigue, flattery and gossip led to women becoming shamed, smeared, hounded and almost totally destroyed. Theirs was a dark and precipitous vantage of the French Revolution."

He added: "Built around strong female relationships of the kind that Emily captures with such great verve, The Queen’s Favourites will appeal to modern readers by resonating with contemporary issues of anti-elitism, fake news, LGBTQI+ identities and the threat of powerful women. Through the lives of Marie Antoinette’s coterie, Emily's riveting new book will offer a new window onto the Revolution and the real roles of court women so reviled by the revolutionaries and ignored by historians.’  

Brand said: “It is a thrill and a privilege to finally tell the entwined stories of these three very different but remarkable women, who have been haunting my imagination for the best part of a decade. As well as providing a journey through the court of Versailles and the French Revolution, the book attempts to lift some of the myths that have settled over Marie Antoinette’s favourites and explores how their fates were shaped and ultimately sealed by their treatment in the press."

She revealed her enjoyment of the research after lockdown: "After the last difficult 18 months it’s a real joy to be back in the archives, hunting down the voices of these women – and I’m so pleased that the book has found a home with the brilliant and endlessly supportive team at John Murray.”