Lunacy, Liberty And The Mad-Doctors In Victorian England by Sarah Wise (Vintage, £9.99)
In this fascinating history, Wise explores the legal and emotional impact of the authority that 19th-century psychiatry had on 12 men and women who were, she argues, unjustly condemned as mad and subsequently locked up. More nuanced than she portrays, perhaps, with bewildered and frightened, rather than evil, families responding the only way they could.
My First Wife by Jakob Wassermann (Penguin Modern Classics, £9.99)
Michael Hofmann's Afterword on Wasserman's irresistibly detailed and authentic semi-autobiographical account of a marriage sums up an era and a text beautifully: "It ends a late 19th-century male fantasy about women and society and money and art, that it was possible by adroit use of the last of these to make an impression on the first three."
Egyptomania by Bob Brier (Palgrave Macmillan, £17.99)
Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in 1798 sparked off our modern fascination with Egypt's pharaohs and mummies' tombs which continued into the 20th century with Cleopatra, the most expensive film then ever made. It's the history of this fascination, rather than its sociological cause, that Brier explores here, as different countries plundered Egypt's treasures through the centuries.
Wolves In Winter by Lisa Hilton (Corvus, £7.99)
Following in the footsteps of historians like Alison Weir who have turned their hands to fiction with great commercial results, Hilton gives us this Renaissance tale of Mura, a young Spanish slave working first for the Medicis and then for Caterina Sforza. A little too like non-fiction in parts but polished and engaging enough.