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

News & Events


As everyone will appreciate, Covid-19 put paid to all literary festivals and live author talks throughout 2020 and they have only just begun to get going again in the summer of 2021. It is unlikely I will be able to travel abroad for the foreseeable future to lecture, and I greatly regret not being able, at present, to travel to the USA where I had been visiting annually to give talks.

I am however determined to get back on the speaking circuit in the UK next year – 2022. Details will be posted on this page as and when I am able to arrange events.

In the meantime I am delighted to announce another forthcoming title:

In Search of Mary Seacole: The Making of a Cultural Icon

To be published in the UK by Simon & Schuster, 17 February 2022

You can preorder the book on Amazon below:

In Britain today the Jamaican nurse, healer, humanitarian and entrepreneur has risen to a unique position of pre eminence and respect since being voted Greatest Black Briton in 2004. With this inexorable rise to fame and celebration, however, a plethora of inaccurate internet sites have disseminated an often inaccurate and incomplete picture of this extraordinary woman. I first discovered Mary in 2002 when I came across her lost portrait, which is now in London’s National Portrait Gallery. I was gripped by her fascinating story as the most famous black woman in the British Empire in the mid 19th century. I began trying to track down the truth of her story and fill in the many gaps. This book is the end result of almost twenty years searching and a huge amount of new and never seen before research. It sets out to put the record straight and reveal Mary’s extraordinary personality and story. In the process, a few long standing myths are busted, many surprises are revealed and one or two truth bombs dropped, but all in all it presents a glorious, fully rounded personality, the reality of whose story proves to be even more remarkable and dramatic than the internet legend.

More Book News…


The first of my two-book US deal will be published by St Martin’s Press in New York on 8 March 2022:

After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Epoque through revolution and war

You can preorder the book on Amazon below. There is as yet no UK edition but in the meantime UK readers can order the American edition on

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]

To be published c. 2023/4

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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