Have You Heard? Biographies and Biographical Fiction
13 mins read

Have You Heard? Biographies and Biographical Fiction

History is full of awe-inspiring heroines, world-changing love affairs, and individuals who risked everything to alter the course of human events. Check out these biographies and biographical fiction from the Plano Public Library.

Below you’ll find audiobook recommendations from the Plano Public Library. This is just a sample of the audiobooks in our collection, and you can visit a library location for assistance in finding personalized recommendations.

Ancient History through the Middle Ages

Matrix by Lauren Groff, narrated by Adjoa Andoh. This biographical fiction follows Marie de France in the twelfth century after she’s cast out of the French royal court by Eleanor of Aquitane and sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey. Print / Playaway / eAudiobook / eBook.

The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse, narrated by Susan Duerden. In 1413, a young maidservant accompanies her deeply religious mistress, Dame Margery Kempe, on a pilgrimage to Rome. Print / eAudiobook.

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran, narrated by Wanda McCaddon. Transport to the colorful and dangerous court of imperial Rome and into the remarkable lives of two young captives– the children of Cleopatra, Egypt’s most powerful and notorious ruler, and her lover Marc Antony. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

15th through 17th Centuries: Tudor England, the Ottoman Sultanate of Women and Renaissance Italy

The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan, narrated by Sneha Mathan. A novel set against the exotic backdrop of the Mughal dynasty of sixteenth-century India chronicles the life and times of Mehrunnisa, an intelligent, ambitious, and beautiful young woman who became one of India’s legendary heroines. Print / eAudiobook.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, narrated by Simon Slater. Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter’s efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price. Print / Playaway / Book on CD / eAudiobook / eBook.

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory, narrated by Bianca Amato. United in sisterhood by birth and marriage, Katherine of Aragon, Queen of England; Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots; and Mary Tudor, Queen of France immediately recognize each other as both allies and rivals in the treacherous world of court and national politics. Print / Book on CD / eAudiobook / eBook.

Rizzio by Denise Mina, narrated by Katie Leung. On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatizes the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World written and narrated by Patrick Wyman. Patrick Wyman examines the world-altering implications of the developments of printed mass media, extreme taxation, exploitative globalization, humanistic learning, gunpowder warfare, and mass religious conflict in the long term, and their intensely disruptive consequences in the short-term, as told through the lives of ten real people. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy by Sarah Bradford, narrated by Lorna Raver. Discusses the infamous Renaissance woman’s origins as the illegitimate child of Pope Alexander VI, forced first marriage at the age of thirteen, increasing power during two subsequent marriages, and role in the era’s political struggles. Print / eAudiobook.

The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas by Alison Weir, narrated by Maggie Mash. Lady Mary Douglas, the beautiful, cunning niece of Henry VIII of England, who used her sharp intelligence and covert power to influence the Tudor succession after the death of Elizabeth I. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

18th Century: Revolutions and Rebellions

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, narrated by Cassandra Campbell. Tells the story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Print / Book on CD / eAudiobook / eBook.

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld. The story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who ran her father’s plantation outside Charleston, South Carolina in the 1700s and struck a bargain with the plantation’s slaves–teach her how to make indigo and she would teach them to read. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs, narrated by Coleen Marlo. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of iconic characters such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette, The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. Print / Playaway / eBook.

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran, narrated by Rosalyn Landor. Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, “Madame Tussaud” brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom. Print / Playaway / Book on CD / eBook.

Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of the Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe, narrated by Caroline Turner Cole. A biography of Sophie Germain, who grew up during the French Revolution and followed her dream of studying mathematics, becoming the first woman to win a grand prize from the Royal Academy of Sciences and changing the world with her discoveries. Print / Wonderbook.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell, read by various narrators. Chronicling General Lafayette’s years in Washington’s army, Vowell reflects on the ideals of the American Revolution versus the reality of the Revolutionary War. Print / eAudiobook.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie, narrated by Mark Deakins. Presents a reconstruction of the eighteenth-century empress’s life that covers her efforts to engage Russia in the cultural life of Europe, her creation of the Hermitage, and her numerous scandal-free romantic affairs. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

19th Century: Wars, Gilded Ages and Social Change

Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini, narrated by Cassandra Campbell. 1875. Elizabeth Todd Edwards reels from news that her younger sister Mary, former First Lady and widow of President Abraham Lincoln, has attempted suicide. Can the Todd sisters – maternal Elizabeth, peacemaker Frances, envious Ann, and much adored Emilie – come together as sisters to help Mary in her most desperate hour? Print / eAudiobook / eBook / Large Print.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin, narrated by Anna Wilson-Jones. Drawing on Victoria’s own diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin brings us the brilliantly imagined life of a young woman about to make her mark on her nation–and the world. Print / Playaway / eBook / Large Print.

The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party by Allan Wolf, read by various narrators. A novel in verse that recounts the chilling survival tale of the Donner party during the 1846-1847 winter from the perspectives of its leaders, a scholarly wife, two Miwok guides, the Reed children, and other historical figures. Print / Playaway / Book on CD.

African Town by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, narrated by a full cast. Chronicles the story of the last Africans brought illegally to the United States on the Clotilda in 1860. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler, narrated by Barrie Kreinik. Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allisom Pataki, narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden. Against the backdrop of a rich, romantic, and volatile time period–marked by pivotal events such as the opening of the Suez Canal, Vienna’s World Exhibition, and the lead up to WWI–Sisi, infamously beautiful, a mother of four, and wife of Emperor Franz Joseph – was a woman well ahead of her time during a true Golden Age in European history. Print / eAudiobook / eBook / Large Print.

Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac, narrated by Curtis Zunigha. A story based on the life of the dedicated young Lakota boy who grew up to be one of the bravest defenders of his people. Wonderbook.

20th Century: Pandemics, World Wars, and Hollywood Stars

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict, narrated by Nicola Barber. December 1926: England unleashes the largest manhunt in its history. The object of the search is not an escaped convict or a war criminal, but the missing wife of a WWI hero, up-and-coming mystery author Agatha Christie. Print / Playaway / eBook / Large Print.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christoper Murray, narrated by Robin Miles. The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian-who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and well-known advocate for equality. Print / Playaway / eAudiobook / eBook / Large Print.

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin, narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II–while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hotel Ritz in Paris. Print / eAudiobook / eBook / Large Print.

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin, narrated by Kimberly Farr. A fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends–screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford. Print / eAudiobook / eBook / Large Print.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain, narrated by January LaVoy. In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. But she also finds herself unexpectedly–and uncontrollably–falling in love with Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend. Print / eAudiobook / eBook / Large Print.

White Houses by Amy Bloom, narrated by Tonya Cornelisse. Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign. As her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. Print / Book on CD / eAudiobook / eBook.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin, narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Paul Boehmer. When Truman Capote gains access to New York high society, he builds an unlikely friendship with socialite Babe Paley. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

Beauty Mark by Carole Boston Weatherford, narrated by Laura Knight Keating. In a novel in verse, an award-winning author offers an eye-opening look at the life of Marilyn Monroe. Print / eAudiobook.

X by Ilyaseh Shabazz with Kekla Magoon, narrated by Dion Graham. Based on actual events in the early life of Malcolm X, this novel sheds light on the formative years of the influential human-rights leader. Print / Book on CD / eBook.

Dr. Wangari Maathai Plants a Forest by Corinne Purtill, narrated by Bahni Turpin. Wangari lives in the lush, green, land of rural Kenya where the soil is perfect for planting, the trees tower into the sky, and the streams are full of mysterious creatures. Then Wangari grows up and goes away to school, and things start changing at home. Farmers chop down the trees. Landslides bury the stream. The soil becomes overworked and dry, and nothing will grow. People go hungry. After all her studies, Dr. Wangari Maathai realizes there is a simple solution to these problems: plant a forest full of trees. Print/ eAudiobook.

White Rose by Kip Wilson, narrated by Nicola Barber. Tells the story of Sophie Scholl, a young German college student who challenges the Nazi regime during World War II as part of the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group. Print / eAudiobook / eBook.

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