Running the Show

The extraordinary stories of the men who governed the British Empire

Viking Penguin 2011

"Altogether admirable... the range and richness of Running the Show defies reviewers' analysis. A wonderful performance." 
Jan Morris, The Times 

"Williams' research is exhaustive; her descriptions of the colonial life splendidly evocative. What emerges is a valuable picture of what empire-building was like: not the well-oiled machine of legend, but rather, an 'ad hoc and messy' affair, with the odd redeeming success." 
David Evans, Financial Times 

"Consistently surprising, frequently stirring and often very funny... Williams has a fluent, engaging style and a finely tuned ear for an anecdote. She pays proper attention to her subjects’ romantic entanglements - a combination of hot climates, plentiful supplies of booze and boredom sounding the death knell for numerous colonial marriages...a delight." 
John Preston, Daily Mail 

"Richly detailed, hugely enjoyable" 
Piers Brendon, The Sunday Times 

" amusing and lively, stuffed full of anecdotes and interesting titbits." 
Amanda Foreman, New Statesman 


Olga's Story

July 1900:  Olga Yunter was born, far away from anywhere, just in time to take part in the Russian Revolution


A true story for a fight for life and freedom

Viking Penguin 2005

‘As good as Dr Zhivago. One of the treats of terrific literature is how it opens the doors to worlds we knew nothing about. Williams bring[s] to vibrant life the world of the middle- and upper-class Russians in Siberian towns’  Jonathan Mirsky, Spectator 

‘Vivid and enthralling, brilliant and entrancing, well written and passionately researched. Reads like a novel’  Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times 

‘A heartbreaking story of disaster and survival through some of the worst conflicts and upheavals of our benighted age. Moving and brilliant’  Sunday Telegraph 


Olga's Story

BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week,July 2005. Sold in twelve countries

'In recreating Olga's Story, Stephanie Williams has managed to do something I would have thought impossible: she has given us a new vantage point from which to view the turbulent and often hellish years of the first half of the twentieth century. Born in 1900 to a loving and prosperous family in Siberia, Olga saw her world and family shredded in the murderous fighting between the Reds and the White Russians that followed the Bolshevik revolution. She survived by moving first to Vladivostok, and thence to Tianjin, in northern China, and to Shanghai. After the Japanese had wiped out those Chinese havens, she found a measure of peace first in western Canada and finally at Oxford. This is a beautifully written and subtly crafted book. Olga's Story leaves one awestruck at how much human beings can witness and experience, without losing their bearings altogether." Jonathan Spence, Yale University, author of The Death of Woman Wang and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci.  

‘A gripping and authentic narrative of a life that was at once ordinary and remarkable’  The Times Literary Supplement 


Hongkong Bank

Jonathan Cape (UK) and Little Brown (USA) 1989

‘Rich drama and suspense... scrupulously objective. You feel at the end of the book that you have helped to build the pyramids, not just another bank.’ Colin Amery, Financial Times. 

‘Foster Associates ‘Hongkong and Shanghai Bank is stunning, even awe-inspiring as an object, but Williams’ ‘warts and all’ account of how it was created is easily its match.’  Patrick Hannay, Architects Journal. 

‘Nothing can compete with Stephanie Williams’ racy description through all the trial and tribulations of designing and building... as gripping as a detective novel.’ John Winter, Architectural Review. 

Book photos 012.jpg


Phaidon 1993

London’s Docklands was undergoing one of the biggest urban renewal programmes in the world when this guide to the buildings of the area was published in 1993. The gigantic developments at Canary Wharf had only just begun to loom over the run-down riverside areas of east London. 

‘Docklands’ remains a rare critical guide to the buildings, old and new, in this unique area of London. Providing visitors with both the historical context and a view of the future, it documents – with maps, plans and photographs – the monuments of high-pressure development. 

Book photos 005_edited_edited.jpg

©2019 by Stephanie Williams.