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Catherine Bailey

Non-fiction writer

Catherine Bailey is a television producer and a bestselling writer of non-fiction. Before embarking on her publishing career, she produced a series of critically acclaimed films in drama, documentary and current affairs. Lie of the Land, a film about the plight of the countryside, won the Bafta for best documentary (2008).

Her first book Black Diamonds (Penguin, 2007) was inspired by a visit to Wentworth Woodhouse, a forgotten palace in Yorkshire. Situated in what was once the heart of the south Yorkshire coalfield, the house is the largest in Europe. Spanning the years 1900–50, the book tells the previously untold story of the downfall of the Earls Fitzwilliam, Britain’s wealthiest coal dynasty. Catherine Bailey’s second book The Secret Rooms (Penguin, 2012) is set at Belvoir Castle, the home of the duke of Rutland. Originally, she intended to write a history of the Belvoir estate during the First World War. The direction of the book changed, however, when she stumbled across a mystery. In April 1940, John, ninth duke of Rutland, died in strange circumstances in a cramped suite of rooms in the basement of the castle. After his death, the rooms were sealed for 60 years. Using letters, diaries and other primary sources — a central component in her work in bringing personal histories to life — she was able to piece together the mystery.

Catherine Bailey lives in west London and is currently working on a thriller set in Italy in the 1970s during the years of the ‘Strategy of Tension’.

Catherine  Bailey
Image Credit: Konrad Gabriel


Oxford Brookes University 2014-16
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