October Weekend 2021 Saturday 02 October - Sunday 03 October | Tickets now on sale

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

Anne Sebba

Chair: Clare Mulley

03/10/2021 11:30 am
Kings Place, Hall 1 & virtual event

Ticket Price : £12.50 or £16.50

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To J. Edgar Hoover it was ‘the trial of the century’; for many more it was a horrifying case of what happens when a government motivated by fear tramples on the rights of its citizens. In June 1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted, having been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union. Ethel was the first woman in the US to be executed for a crime other than murder, a crime she almost certainly did not commit and the evidence for which was based on perjury from her own brother. Hers is a story of loyalty and courage as she battled the political paranoia of the McCarthy era, antisemitism, misogyny and more.

Following the award-winning Les Parisiennes and her acclaimed biographies of Wallis Simpson, Jennie Churchill and Mother Teresa, Anne Sebba joins us to discuss Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy, the first book to have full use of the dramatic prison letters she exchanged with her husband, her lawyer and her psychotherapist – as well as new interviews with her sons and fellow prisoners. She will be in conversation with fellow historian and The Spy Who Loved author Clare Mulley.

Click here to purchase a copy of Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy by Anne Sebba

Anne Sebba


Anne Sebba: award winning biographer, historian and author of eleven books. Her latest book is Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy published in the UK and US in 2021. In 2016 Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940’s was the winner of the 2016 Franco-British Society book prize. Previously Anne wrote That Woman, a biography of Wallis Simpson and the scandal of the 1936 abdication crisis based on her discovery of a secret cache of letters. A former Reuters Foreign Correspondent, Anne is a broadcaster and regularly appears on television talking about her books. She is a former chair of Britain's 10,000 strong Society of Authors and lecturer who gives talks to a variety of audiences in the US and UK as well as on cruises and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.

Clare Mulley


Clare Mulley is an award-winning author, and broadcaster. Her first book, The Woman Who Saved the Children, won the Daily Mail Biographers' Club Prize, and The Spy Who Loved led to Clare being decorated with Poland’s cultural honour, the Bene Merito. Clare's third book, The Women Who Flew for Hitler, tells the extraordinary story of two women at the heart of Nazi Germany, whose choices and actions put them on opposite sides of history. Her books have been reviewed as ‘Compulsively readable… mesmerising’ (Telegraph), 'Scintillating and moving’ (Spectator), ’Thrilling’ (Mail) and ‘This summer’s most spellbinding saga’ (Vogue). Clare is chair of the Historical Writers Association non-fiction prize 2021, reviews non-fiction for the Spectator, and is an acclaimed public speaker who has given a TEDx talk at Stormont. Recent TV and radio includes the BBC’s Rise of the Nazis, C5’s Secret History of WW2NewsnightSongs of Praise, and Radio 4’s Today ProgrammeWoman’s HourPM and Great Lives.