Mary Hollingsworth

Critical Acclaim for The Cardinal’s Hat

‘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

‘Excellent ... less of a biography than a book about the sociology and the practicalities of being a great man in the sixteenth century ... This is a fascinating book, not just for the details, but for the skill with which Hollingsworth interprets them’
The Observer

‘She explains the social significance of each object and ritual with the adroitness of the scrupulous scholar writing for a wider general readership ... a splendid book’
The Times Higher Educational Supplement

‘I would strongly recommend this for anyone who needs an introduction to Renaissance Italy: it will give them a thorough feeling for the lives people lived at the time. If, like me, you’ve ever wondered what Renaissance men wore in bed – this is the book for you’
The Art Book

The forensic accuracy of Mary Hollingsworth’s accountancy training, together with her imaginative and scholastic powers as a historian, make this book a treasure trove of social history. Through a study of what in other hands might be dry household inventories, she brings alive the life and times of a glamorous Renaissance power player, his court, his servants, his wardrobe, his travels, and his vaunting ambition A shopping list will never seem the same again.
Sarah Dunant for the cover of The Cardinal’s Hat