Matthew Dennison is the author of ten critically acclaimed works of non-fiction, including a bestselling biography of Elizabeth II, a journalist and broadcaster.
He read English at Christ Church, Oxford, as Douglas Jerrold Scholar, and afterwards the History of Decorative Arts at the University of Glasgow. His thesis – on Sevres porcelain hyacinth-growing vessels of the mid-1750s – was subsequently published in abridged form by Country Life. He remains a Country Life contributor.
His first biography, The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2007 and became a Hatchards' number one bestseller. In 2019, it inspired a new ballet by Cathy Marston for Northern Ballet – ‘Victoria’ – and was reissued by Head of Zeus. Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia was published in 2010, followed in 2012 by The Twelve Caesars, a Daily Mail Book of the Week, acclaimed by The Spectator as “magnificent”. In 2013, William Collins published Queen Victoria: A Life of Contradictions, described by Hugo Vickers in The Times as “a tremendous coup”, the first of a series of short biographies Matthew has written, which also includes lives of children’s authors Beatrix Potter (Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter), Kenneth Grahame (Eternal Boy: The Life of Kenneth Grahame) and Roald Dahl (Teller of the Unexpected: The Life of Roald Dahl), the last a Radio 4 Book of the Week.
Matthew’s biography of Vita Sackville-West, Behind the Mask, was published by William Collins in October 2014 and became a ‘Book of the Year’ in The Times, The Independent, The Observer, and The Spectator. Collins also published Matthew’s biography of George II’s wife, Caroline of Ansbach, The First Iron Lady, described ahead of publication by The Times as "scintillating".
In the summer of 2017, Matthew wrote the afterword to ‘A Note of Explanation’, a short story written by Vita Sackville-West for Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, and published for the first time by the Royal Collection.
Matthew’s books have been published in more than 20 languages.
He is regular contributor to the Telegraph and Country Life and contributed to ‘Queen Victoria’s Children’ and ‘Royal Cousins at War’ for BBC 2 and ‘The Queen’s Longest Reign’ for BBC 1.