Freedom, writing and historical celebrity

Since leaving academia, I have finally had the space and time to write something. Without the burden of teaching, teaching prep, marking, feedback, student emails, management emails, major admin roles, toxic working conditions and meetings for meetings' sake, my mind feels liberated. No longer constrained by the unrealistic pressures of trying to squeeze academic research between an exponential number of spinning plates, I have begun to think creatively again. When it came to the question of what I should write about next, for me, there was no contest. One particular historical character (and definitely not the subject of my previous books) has been on my mind almost ever since I got interested in history - George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. Bisexual, good looking, filthy rich, corrupt, powerful, charismatic, predatory and, of course, highly unpopular, Villiers was the royal favourite par excellence. He lived his life in the full glare of the public eye, before being stabbed to death in a pub at 36, the same age that Marilyn Monroe and

Princess Diana were when their high profile lives were cut short. This fascinating historical celebrity was my natural choice when it came to writing about whatever I wanted and here, in the first of several pieces about Villiers, I explain why one of London's most important streets bears his name.

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