News & Events

find out where you can meet Helen and hear her speak

I passionately believe that as an author and historian I should get out there and not just talk to readers about work published or in progress, but also to debate history with my peers and uncover new ideas for future work

Events listing

2020

I am currently engaged in intensive research and writing for my next projects and only undertaking occasional talks during this phase. These will be posted here as and when arranged. I will be back on the literary festival circuit for my next book, due out autumn 2021.

Meanwhile I am delighted to announce the 2-book deal that I have recently signed with St Martin’s Press in New York. A UK deal is currently under negotiation:

Book No 1: White Russians in Paris: The First Wave Emigration 1919–1939 [working title]

The subject of the White Russian emigration from Russia in the wake of the 1917 Revolution and Civil War is very wide-ranging and full of human drama and tragedy. I shall tell the story of how it felt to be a refugee and describe the dislocations of exile, the problems of readjustment and integration, of finding a home and making a living. My narrative will range across the whole spectrum of Russian exile life in Paris – from Romanovs and former members of the aristocracy who may have had some money and contacts in France to tap into, to Russians who arrived utterly adrift, destitute and friendless, and often suffering ill health. The story will include tales of former White officers and Russian aristocrats driving taxis, washing dishes and waiting tables; of emigres on the assembly lines of the Renault automobile factory and genteel Russian ladies working for the Paris couturiers as embroiderers and seamstresses.

Book no 2: The Romanov Bride: Juliane of Saxe-Coburg, Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna of Russia [working title]

Few people know the story of Julie – as her family and relatives usually referred to her –­ and whom Queen Victoria and Prince Albert held in high regard. Her story begins in 1795 when she and her two sisters were taken by their ambitious mother, Auguste of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, on a long coach journey from Coburg to St Petersburg. This was in order to be inspected by Catherine the Great, who was in search of a suitable German bride for her grandson Grand Duke Konstantin. Julie was quickly chosen and summarily abandoned to her fate in Russia. Aged only 14 she was married off the following year but her husband Konstantin was a cruel, unpredictable sociopath and bully and Julie’s life was misery until she was finally able to get away in 1801. She had to wait until 1820 for a divorce, during which time she took refuge in Switzerland and built a fascinating and unorthodox new life for herself, in the process producing two illegitimate children.

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