ZULU WAR VCs: VICTORIA CROSSES OF THE ANGLO- ZULU WAR 1879, by James W. Bancroft. Published by Pen and Sword Books (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk). £25. Hardback.

IN a war only six months long 23 men were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry under most trying and dangerous circumstances, including 11 gained in the famous defence of Rorke’s Drift. The book contains detailed biographies of every one of the 23 VC winners including Northumbrian corporal William Wilson Allan, who was born at Kyloe and received his medal from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.

THE BLACK PENCIL WOMAN: A PORTRAIT OF MY MOTHER, by Ros Holland. Published by Austin Macauley Publishers (www. austinmacauley.com). £9.99. Softback.

TOLD with honesty and adept written skill, these memoirs detail the author’s life dealing with multiple episodes of grief and struggle. They present a child’s understanding of sickness, class struggles, northern community culture and coming of age within a family that is wrought with difficulties.

With reflections from the now-adult author, this story reveals how fragile the human psyche is in the face of despair and loss, yet how determination and a strong sense of self can overcome these and find comfort.

DURHAM, FROM THE ARCHIVES OF HISTORIC ENGLAND, by Derek Dodds. Published by Amberley Publishing (www.amberley-books.com). £14.99. Softback.

THIS illustrated history provides a nostalgic look at Durham’s past and highlights the special character of some of its most important historic sites. Pictures date from the earliest days of photography to the present and cover subjects from Bronze Age burials and medieval churches to cinemas and seaside resorts.