David Waller was educated at Manchester Grammar School, Balliol College, Oxford, and Birkbeck College, London. He worked for the best part of ten years as a journalist on the Financial Times. David is married with three children and lives in South-West London. He has written two business books but more recently turned to historical biography after the chance find of a treasure-trove of papers in a home counties attic. The Magnificent Mrs Tennant, a biography of the Victorian grande dame Gertrude Tennant, was published in summer 2009 by Yale University Press. Reviews have been flattering: the book was compared to “Thackeray at his best” (Independent) and Valerie Grove in The Times wrote: “Waller’s story has terrific pace and wit. It is rich in period detail and places events unobtrusively in context. It is a real discovery.”
David has now turned his attention to Eugen Sandow, an ancestor whose scandalous life became the subject of family gossip. Through rigorous research, David has managed to unearth new facts about Sandow’s life, revealing for the first time his origins, and giving fresh insights into the rise and fall of this extraordinary Victorian celebrity.
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More praise for The Magnificent Mrs Tennant
“David Waller has written an engaging biography about the marvellous Gertrude Tennant. We all need someone like Gertrude in our lives; failing that, having her for a quiet hour or two is a delicious treat.” – Amanda Foreman
“How did the self-educated daughter of a penniless, half-pay naval officer become one of Victorian England’s great hostesses? In scenes worthy of a Balzac novel, David Waller recreates Gertrude Tennant’s character-forming struggles in post-Revolutionary Paris, and brings to life her close and immensely touching friendship with Gustave Flaubert. This sparked her lifelong passion for the company of great men – a hunger not even appeased when Henry Morton Stanley became her son-in-law. Only by creating her own salon in Whitehall would she find fulfilment. An unusual and involving story, impressively researched and vividly told.” Tim Jeal
‘Some historians have all the luck: David Waller’s Magnificent Mrs Tennant starts off as a literary-detective novel, with the author finding caches of letters from the likes of Flaubert and Browning in a farmhouse attic, and goes on to illuminate mid-Victorian Britain and France from the refreshing perspective of gaggle of irrepressibly eccentric and confident women. Scholarly and alive to the perils and passions of the era, it breathes fresh life into the supposedly corsetted and cossetted world of 19th century literary high society.’
Ian Kelly, biographer of Beau Brummell and Sunday Times Biography of the Year, 2008, Casanova
“Thoroughly engaging and extremely well written. The Magnificent Mrs Tennant is not only the story of a fascinating woman’s rise through intelligent Victorian Society, but an eye-opening portrait of life amongst the great men of the day.” – Frances Osborne, author of The Bolter
◊ Read Miranda Seymour’s review in The Guardian
◊ Read Christopher Hawtree’s review in The Independent