Mary Hollingsworth

The Medici 

Mary Hollingsworth's lucid and beautifully illustrated family history. Rather than concentrating on the glory years at the heart of the Renaissance, she covers, with a daunting grasp of the labyrinth Medici family tree, the dynasty's full 500-year span. Book of the week Times, Michael Prodger 

"As Mary Hollingsworth's excellent study of The Medici illustrates, behind the rosy imaginings, neither Florence nor the Renaissance were quite as golden as they are often painted. This is a carefully, understated book, largely uninterested in the grand revisionist statements used to sell popular histories and it is all the better for it. An accountant turned art historian - skills that came together in her respected Patronage in Sixteens Century Italy (1996) - Hollingsworth brings a forensic eye to her material particularly when it comes to lines of credit and cold hard cash that aided the Medicis' rise. But for all that, her book is never short on drama. In fact, it's littered with events worthy of any gangster movie or bonkbuster." Tim Smith Laing in The Telegraph.


“If you want to understand what's happening in the Vatican now, read this book. Grippping, lurid and fascinating, both scholarly and utterly readable, oozing with original academic research, it's a minute-by-minute, day-by-day account of all the intrigues, manoeuvres, deals, politics and scandals of a papal conclave.” Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem: The Biography

Cardinals Hat 

Transforming someone else's shopping list into a gripping narrative requires a great deal of skill. Luckily, Hollingsworth combines the forensic eye of a bookkeeper (she used to be an accountant) with a strong, sure sense of the bigger picture (she is now an academic art historian). In her expert hands the most unlikely bits and pieces - a scrap of velvet, a stray barrel of wine - can be made to tell stories that resonate far beyond the neat columns of a well-kept account book. The result is not only a picture of Renaissance life unusually rich in detail, but a model of a particular kind of history writing of growing importance. The Guardian

‘Hollingsworth’s meticulously detailed account ... is somewhat akin to a behind-the-scenes documentary showing the complex workings of some grand hotel or luxury cruise liner. Her subject is Ippolito d’Este ... how fine to have a biography which includes such sentences as, ‘Ippolito spent much of the winter of 1537-8 playing cards’ – and Hollingsworth’s beautifully judged and deeply researched study recovers the day-to-day realities behind the extravagant theatre of his lifestyle.’ Charles Nicholl in The Sunday Times

‘A book of enormous charm, veracity and quirkiness. Out of a forest of shopping lists and inventories, Hollingsworth, once an accountant and a woman who clearly knows how to squeeze juice out of columns of dry figures, paints a loving and colourful portrait of Ippolito d’Este’ The Times

‘The day-to-day realities of life in a Renaissance household are minutely revealed in this superb history’ Your 100 Best Holiday Reads, The Sunday Times

Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Italy

'She carefully weaves together political circumstances, personal ambitions and evocative detail to create a backdrop for the activities of patrons.' Burlington Magazine