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The Real Leonardo Da Vinci (Hardback)

Military > Biographies P&S History > Social History

By Rose Sgueglia
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526761057
Published: 18th August 2021



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Leonardo Da Vinci was left-handed.

That’s probably why he wrote backwards from right to left to avoid smudging ink on his hand as he made notes on his latest works and visionary discoveries.

Words could only be read with the help of a mirror making it taxing for anyone but himself to quickly decode his handwriting.

There are many theories exploring the reason why he kept using “mirror writing” in all his manuscripts.

Some historians say that he was trying to make it more challenging for people to steal his ideas while others claim that it was a clever attempt to hide scientific findings from the intolerant Roman Catholic Church of the Renaissance.

Whatever the logic behind this, the constant association with mirror writing and studies on the human body anatomy, made him one of the most enigmatic figures of his and then of our century. This biography investigates Leonardo and his different roles from anatomist to inventor, architect, painter, rumoured to be templar and scientific pioneer.

Despite leaving several of his works incomplete, Leonardo managed to influence generations of artists and still today remains a highly regarded figure in both the artistic and scientific sector.

An inherently fascinating and informative read from beginning to end, "The Real Leonardo Da Vinci" is a unique study and a well deserved addition to the growing body of literature regarding one of the most influential men of the Renaissance era.

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Midwest Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Leonardo da Vinci is a legend, everyone knows his name and the famous paintings, including the Mona Lisa, but how much do we know about the man himself? "The Real Leonardo da Vinci" tells the story of Leonardo based on what little evidence is there. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in this historical figure.

NetGalley, S. Constant Reader

This is my second book by the author, I thoroughly enjoy her writing style, you can feel her passion through each word.

The attention to detail was fantastic, I was immediately drawn in to Da Vinci’s world and learnt so much about him. I especially like reading about his and Michelangelo’s encounter.

I also learnt that the ‘Mona Lisa’ is a LOT smaller than I had imagined, I thought it was a massive portrait on a easel, but it’s tiny!

This is a book that I will read over and over and highly recommend it to any history fans.

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Instagram, @mrsbookburnee

The book explores Da Vinci’s life and I learnt so much! I don’t want to give too much away but Da Vinci led a very interesting life which is so fascinating to read about. I loved the writing style of the book and thought it really helped me get deeper in to the story at it was so easy to read and had a good pace. Leonardo was not just the Mona Lisa and it was so enlightening to read all about it.

Overall found this to be a really enjoyable read which I highly recommend- if you’re stuck for a Christmas present go and grab this now!

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Instagram, @thehistoriansmagazine

I really loved this book. Whether you're a da Vinci buff or not, you're guaranteed to learn something new in the pages of Sgueglia's latest book.

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Instagram, @lookingbackhist

Don't hesitate to read 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗟𝗲𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗼 𝗗𝗮 𝗩𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗶 by Rose Sgueglia if it sounds intriguing enough. I can promise you- there is more to Leonardo Da Vinci than you think.

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Instagram, @veesreadinglist

Great, genius, icon are all synonymous when thinking about Da Vinci, however he was a man who had relationship issues with friends, enemies and family members. He was easily distracted and often left things unfinished. Personally I love that his ‘flaws’ were also included, the author has gave him back his humanity, to add to his greatness. So often a historical biography will have an agenda of painting someone as a saint or sinner, when really they were all just people, with good parts and bad parts in their personality and life story.

I recommended this to anyone wanting to know a little bit more about the man and not the works.

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Instagram, @historic_rabbithole

Leonardo Da Vinci has inspired countless people, yet still remains somewhat of an enigma to so many of us. After reading this fantastic book, I feel like I now have a better understanding of Leonardo, the man.

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Instagram, @historyart10

The chapters are short and Sgueglia’s colloquial writing style makes for an easy, entertaining read. For history buffs, da Vinci enthusiasts, or anyone just wanting to learn about this exceptional man: this book is for you.

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Instagram, @bethshistoricalblog

Now I’m not here to give the entire game away, because I want to entice you to spend some quality time with the master himself. But know this. Seasoned art enthusiast or cautious newbie to Da Vinci’s world, Rose’s book has a unique knack of fitting comfortably in both camps, making for a compelling yet comfortable read. There’s a lot of passion leaping off the pages - no dry, textbook stuff here. Rose’s love for the Italian master is palpable, making this an all the more engaging read.

A genius, a writer, an icon he may be. But what about Leonardo the lover? Leonardo the friend? Leonardo the man? Discover all this and more in “The Real Leonardo Da Vinci”

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Instagram, @thatmuseumgirl_

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Excellent well researched book on Leonardo Da Vinci and his life. It covers his social life and his early life as a painter before becoming a inventor of different designs and masterpieces. It also covers his relationships with his models and other artists of his day and how he is perceived by many in this modern age.

NetGalley, Lional Jones

Anything to do with the legendary Leonardo Da Vinci is always worth reading, and Rose's new book presents some fascinating facts about him...

Books Monthly

The Real Leonardo Da Vinci is a fascinating account of the man whom she says was "an insecure genius who could paint beautifully but who would also leave most things unfinished and still, today, I am not 100 per cent sure why."

South Wales Echo

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is one of those books that makes you realise how little you knew before you started. It is written with a warmth that feels like an invitation to share the author's admiration and affection for such an incredible man. The invitation isn't needed though, as Leonardo Da Vinci's life, skills, and achievements speak for themselves and draw you in. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and getting to know "The Real Leonardo Da Vinci".

NetGalley, Dawn Lewis

This was a really interesting biography about a man that I've always been curious about. I've read quite a few biographies about Leonardo da Vinci but none of them were as upfront about his sexuality as this one... I learned a lot from this book, which is always great to get from a non-fiction!

NetGalley, Sarah Ramirez

Fascinating book about an more fascinating man. Most of us will have heard of Da Vinci but who he was as a man is well detailed here. Anyone who is studying or wants to know more about the great man should certainly start with this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way the book was written and proportioned.

NetGalley, Alexander Jackson

The myth and the real man has been looked at with a wide lens as the writer tries to link the two to form the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, From a lowly start as the illegitimate son of a lawyer and the death of his beloved grandfather, Leonardo relocates to Florence to learn a profession. Without prior expectations, he was free to pursue his own path. A fascinating glimpse into his world of art, anatomy, homosexuality and discovery.. Set in the crossfire of Rome versus the Renaissance, this book is very well written and gives us many clues about Leonardo..


It is easy to read with intriguing facts that will captivate those who are new to da Vinci’s story. There is something intriguing about looking at the man behind these masterpieces and I think Sgueglia does an excellent job of showing a unique side of this artist’s life. If you want a great book that will introduce you to this polymath’s life and times, I recommend you read, “The Real Leonardo da Vinci” by Rose Sgueglia.

NetGalley, Heidi Malagisi

I really enjoyed this book on Leonardo’s fascinating life! He was such an incredible figure! Many books based on his life are quite long & boring. This author, however, summarizes his life into a simple and easily understandable form. I read the entire thing in a night!... I thoroughly enjoyed this biography.

NetGalley, Pamela Gilbert

About Rose Sgueglia

Rose Sgueglia is a writer, journalist and marketing consultant based in Cardiff. She is the founder of Miss Squiggles, a digital magazine and content agency. Her work has been published in different publications including GQ, La Repubblica, Yahoo and WI Life (a magazine for members of The Women’s Institute). She holds a BA in Journalism, Film and Media and a Post Graduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism from Cardiff University. She is currently working on her PhD in Media Studies with a research project on the impact material culture and audio-visual material has had on Chanel.

Born on this day - Leonardo da Vinci

15th April 1452

A renaissance polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer and inventor, Da Vinci is chiefly remembered as one of the greatest painters of all time.

Died on this day - Leonardo Da Vinci

2nd May 1519

A renaissance polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer and inventor, Da Vinci is chiefly remembered as one of the greatest painters of all time.

"Mona Lisa" stolen from the Louvre by Vincenzo Perugia

21st August 1911

"Mona Lisa" stolen from the Louvre by Vincenzo Perugia; recovered in 1913

View all events View all anniversaries

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