Siân Evans is an author, journalist, commentator, speaker, publicist and film consultant specialising in social history.
She is the author of a plethora of popular social histories, including Mrs Ronnie: the Society Hostess Who Collected Kings; The Manor Reborn (tied in to a major four-part BBC1 TV series); Life Below Stairs in the Victorian and Edwardian Country House; Ghosts: Mysterious Tales from the National Trust; seven National Trust Guidebooks between 2008 and 2014 and Queen Bees, a book examining the role of six influential interwar society hostesses.
Siân regularly writes for the Daily Mail, Daily Express, BBC Antiques Roadshow magazine, Coast magazine, and the National Trust members’ magazine.
She works as a freelance consultant to the National Trust film office and is an experienced public speaker.
In the aristocratic circles of early 20th-century London the company was as starched as the tablecloths. But a revolution was on the horizon – in the form of six remarkable society hostesses who would change the political, social and cultural landscape of Britain forever.
Some of these Queen Bees, like Lady Sybil Colefax, were born into high society. Others, like Edinburgh-born Mrs Ronnie Greville, clambered their way to the top by any means necessary. Lady Nancy Astor and Lady Edith Londonderry were political animals, becoming the first woman MP ever elected and the head of the Women’s Legion, respectively. Lady Emerald Cunard, meanwhile, cultivated artists and royals, playing a pivotal role in Edward VIII’s relationship with Wallis Simpson and igniting a scandal that would shake Britain. And American Laura Corrigan just liked a damned good party – the more extravagant, the better.
In an age when the place of women was uncertain, becoming a hostess was not a chore, but a career choice, and they presided over London from their dining tables and salons, charming, scheming, and mingling their way through two world wars, the Great Depression, an abdication, a coronation and an upheaval in class structures that would bring their world to its knees. With a glittering cast of players from Mosleys to Mitfords, from millionaires to maharajahs, from film stars to royalty, Queen Bees is the witty, warm and fascinating story of six women whose influence can still be felt today.
‘This book dances in and out of its subject to the sound of plate-smashing, cut-glass gossip, ukuleles, Beecham’s orchestra, jazz bands, Nazi anthems and bombs. “I’ve been to a marvellous party,” wrote Noel Coward. Thanks to Queen Bees, we can feel as though we were there too.’
‘Evans’ pacy account of these intrepid social lion-hunters sparkles’
— Mail on Sunday
‘Delightful…crammed with fascinating anecdotes’
‘An irresistible and witty account of six extraordinary women who bucked the system to become society hostesses in the years between the two world wars’
— Woman & Home
‘A compelling portrait of six inspiring women.’
— The Lady
— Sunday Express
— Country Life
‘Group biography is a difficult trick to pull off, but Evans is deft with her inter-weaving of narrative and history’
— Sunday Times