2022 Royal Reading List

Some book links below may be Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to buy through that link, it doesn’t change your price at all, but Amazon will give me a few extra cents for the tiara research fund.

Do you love reading about royals as much as I do? If so, check out my 2022 royal reading list - all the research books I bought, borrowed, and re-read are listed here. I’m adding books as I read them, so check back to see if your picks made the list.

Just scroll down to get the info for each book, including my comments. Or use the table of contents below to jump straight to a book you’re already interested in.

Want to suggest a book for me this year? I’d love to know what titles you recommend. Click here to drop me a line.

Last updated: July 5

Becoming a Romanov

Becoming a Romanov by Marina Soroka and Charles A. Ruud

Subtitle: Grand Duchess Elena of Russia and her World (1807-1873)
Authors: Marina Soroka and Charles A. Ruud
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

This is the only full-length English-language source on Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, so it was a no-brainer that I’d have to buy it. I was looking for information on Elena and her three daughters, one of whom married Adolph of Nassau (father of my research subject Hilda of Baden). This book is a goldmine of information for anyone interested in the reign of Nicholas I or the emancipation of the serfs early in the reign of his son, Alexander II.

Caught in the Revolution

Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport

Subtitle: Witnesses to the Fall of Imperial Russia
Author: Helen Rappaport
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book because I’m a sucker for anything on the Russian Revolution. Plus, the more into research I get, the more I see the value of primary sources like the ones this author uncovered. As an impatient high school and college student, I often skipped or skimmed primary sources – I wanted gossip and analysis, not “thee”s and “thou”s of old letters. But now that I’m older and theoretically wiser, I do want those primary accounts of historical events. This book definitely scratched that itch.

Darling Loosy

Darling Loosy by Elizabeth Longford

Subtitle: Letters to Princess Louise 1856-1939
Editor: Elizabeth Longford
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Year: 1991
Available at: Amazon

I picked up a used copy of this after reading Julia Gelardi’s short book on Prince Alfred’s wedding to Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. A few of Queen Victoria’s comments on the couple came from letters in this book. So when I saw there were used copies under $10 on Amazon, I bought it.

Maria Nikolayevna

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Her Palace in St. Petersburg by Zoia Belyakova

Full Title: Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Her Palace in St. Petersburg
Author: Zoia Belyakova
Publisher: EGO Publishers
Year: 1994
Available at: Amazon (used)

I bought this book because I wanted to know more about the daughters of Nicholas I: Maria, Olga, and Adini. Maria was the most elusive - I'd already read Olga's memoir, and it provided a lot of information about Adini. Maria, however, was a few years older than Olga and that gap set her apart, enough to make getting to know her through Olga's memoir difficult. I was hoping this book could shed some more light on her.

The Lost Tudor Princess

The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir

Subtitle: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas
Author: Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

As a fan of Alison Weir’s nonfiction, I had to grab this when I saw the Kindle version available for a couple bucks. As always, I learned a lot and greatly respect Weir as a writer and researcher. If you’re new to Weir’s back catalog, this would make a great prequel to her book on (spoiler alert) the murder of Darnley, Margaret’s son.

Love, Power and Revenge

Love, Power and Revenge by Nancy Becker

Subtitle: Imperial Triangle of Napoleon III, Empress Eugénie and the Intriguing Duke of Sesto
Author: Nancy Becker
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Year: 2011
Available at: Amazon

I stumbled across this book while looking for information on Sofia Trubetskoy. It came up in my Google Books search results, and come to find out, it was available for free via Kindle Unlimited. I did find a little more information of Sofia Trubetskoy, but the book overall was a bit too much for me. What do I mean by that? Let’s find out.

Metternich

Metternich by Desmond Seward

Subtitle: The First European
Author: Desmond Seward
Publisher: Lume Books (digital edition)
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book through Kindle Unlimited. I’m looking for more information on Chancellor Metternich’s interactions with Tsar Nicholas I, especially in the years 1840-1845. What happened in those years? Well, Nicholas was in low-key on-again off-again negotiations for his daughter Olga to marry Archduke Stephen, the son of Archduke Joseph, palatine of Hungary. But reading about the situation from Olga and Nicholas’s point of view only provides half the story. Nicholas felt that Metternich was dishonest about the possibility of that marriage ever happening. But how did Metternich see it? Did this book answer that question?

Nicholas I

The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir

Subtitle: Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias
Author: W. Bruce Lincoln
Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
Year: 1978
Available at: Amazon

I ordered a used copy of this book because it’s the most recent biography of Nicholas I in English. I’d read some of Lincoln’s journal articles on Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, but it was time to take the dive into a full-on study of her brother-in-law to learn more about the tsar who – fairly or not – is probably best remembered for censorship and oppression.

Prince Alfred & Grand Duchess Marie 1874

Prince Alfred and Grand Duchess Marie 1874 by Julia P. Gelardi

Author: Julia P. Gelardi
Publisher: Julia P. Gelardi
Year: 2022
Available at: Amazon

I own all three of Julia Gelardi’s traditionally published books, so when I stumbled on a new short series she’s writing on the weddings of Queen Victoria’s kids, I picked one up via Kindle Unlimited.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy

Author: James Pope-Hennessy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Year: 2019 (eBook edition)
Available at: Amazon

Harold Nicolson called this book, “The most entertaining royal biography that has ever been written,” and he’s absolutely right. I had to re-read it after reading the behind-the-scenes look at the writing of the book in The Quest for Queen Mary. I’d read this last sometime after college, but this time, I saw so much more of Pope-Hennessy’s skill and talent as a writer.

Queen Victoria & the Discovery of the Riviera

Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera

Author: Michael Nelson
Publisher: I.B. Tauris
Year: 2001
Available at: Amazon

I bought a used copy of this book because I wanted more background on the Riviera as a playground for the rich and royal. Several of the royal women I’m researching spent a lot of time there – including Grand Duchess Anastasia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i. I wanted this book to tell me more about the experience of being a royal on the Riviera for the Season.

Queens of the Crusades

Queens of the Crusades by Alison Weir

Subtitle: England’s Medieval Queens Book 2
Author: Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up because I’m a big Alison Weir fan and I’ll buy any of her non-fiction books. This is the second book in a series on the medieval queens of England, and I don’t have the first book yet, but it’s not like there are spoilers, so no harm no foul. Since I don’t specialize in the medieval period, and haven’t read about most of these women in decades, I was hoping new research had come to light regarding their stories. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Quest for Queen Mary

The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy

Author: James Pope-Hennessy (edited by Hugo Vickers)
Publisher: Zuleika & Hodder & Stoughton
Year: 2018
Available at: Amazon

I bought this eBook because, like all conscientious readers of royal biographies, I’m always curious about what didn’t make it in the book. This was my chance to find out – with one of the best case-studies of all time.

Return of the Swallows

Return of the Swallows by Dorothy Countess Praschma

Author: Dorothy, Countess Praschma (compiled & edited by Ilona Praschma Balfour)
Publisher: Ilona Praschma Balfour
Year: 2018
Available at: Amazon

I discovered this book by doing a deep dive into the offerings on Eastern Europe in Kindle Unlimited and I’m so glad I did. It’s a beautiful memoir and a harrowing tale that focuses on the last days and immediate aftermath of World War II in Czechoslovakia and Germany. The author’s daughter put this book together, and I really hope more people find it because it’s a fascinating look at what it was like for Czech and German nobility toward the end of the war. I’ve read and reviewed a few other books that cover similar territory – the havoc wreaked on a royal or noble family during the end of World War II:

This book deserves a place on the shelf next to them.


A Royal Experiment

A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

Author: Janice Hadlow
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Year: 2014
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up via a BookBub deal a few years ago and finally got to it. I bought it because George’s sister Augusta is the mother of Princess Augusta of Brunswick, one of my research subjects. Since Augusta and her more famous sister, Caroline, had notoriously shitty childhoods, I figured some of that might stem from the way their mother – George III’s sister – was raised. Was that actually the case?

Royal Subjects

Royal Subjects by Theo Aronson

Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Lume Books (eBook edition)
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon

I picked this book up through Kindle Unlimited because I’ve read most of Aronson’s other books and enjoyed them. This one promised a peek behind the curtain at what went on as he wrote those books – which was extra interesting since I’d just read The Quest for Queen Mary. Long story short, this book is absolutely charming. It made me wish Aronson was still alive to give us more of his wonderful books.

Society’s Queen

Society's Queen by Anne de Courcy

Subtitle: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry
Author: Anne de Courcy
Publisher: Phoenix
Year: 2012 (eBook edition)
Available at: Amazon

I stumbled across this book while looking for information on the Londonderry amethysts, given to Frances Anne by Tsar Alexander I. I figured why not find out more about the family – and another woman who eventually wore the same jewels. This book was written with the full assistance of Edith’s daughter, Mairi, and four of her grandchildren, which boded well for accuracy and access.

Storms Over Luxembourg

Storms Over Luxembourg by Fausto Gardini

Subtitle: The 1919 Crisis Genesis & Consequences
Author: Fausto Gardini
Publisher: Fausto Gardini
Year: 2009
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book through Kindle Unlimited because it’s tangentially related to one of my research subjects, Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden. Turns out, this is less of a book and more a collection of research and essays. It had no new information for me about Hilda or her niece, Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, but it was interesting to read some of the information about soldiers of Luxembourg who fought with the Belgian and American armies in World War I. I also enjoyed his defense of Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde – of course she couldn’t have refused to see the Kaiser when he arrived in 1914. Sheesh.

Sunlight at Midnight

Sunlight at Midnight by W. Bruce Lincoln

Subtitle: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia
Author: W. Bruce Lincoln
Publisher: Basic Books
Year: 2000
Available at: Amazon

I’ve had this book on my shelf, since, oh, the Borders book chain was still around. I picked it up now, looking for details on the history and architecture of St. Petersburg. I’m working on a chapter about the Decembrist Revolt (1825), and understanding people’s movements that day require a deep familiarity with the geography and buildings of St. Petersburg. Along with Google Maps, this seemed like a good start.

Talleyrand

Talleyrand by Robin Harris

Subtitle: Betrayer and Saviour of France
Author: Robin Harris
Publisher: Lume Books (eBook edition)
Year: 2018
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book via Kindle Unlimited because I know next to nothing about Talleyrand. I wrote a Medium post about his long-term love, the Duchesse de Dino, but since that article was more about her, a lingering curiosity about him remained. All I knew was what I remembered from the 1988 TV miniseries Napoleon and Josephine, where he was played by Anthony Hopkins. So…will the real Talleyrand please stand up?

Thunder at Twilight

Thunder at Twilight by Frederic Morton

Subtitle: Vienna 1913-1914
Author: Frederic Morton
Publisher: Da Capo Press (eBook edition)
Year: 2014 (reprinted, 2nd edition; originally published 1989)
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up in eBook via a BookBub deal – but I had wanted it for awhile after reading the same author’s A Nervous Splendor (highly recommended - here is my review). That book uses pivotal characters in history who were all in Vienna in 1889 to set the scene and tell the story of Crown Prince Rudolf and Mary Vetsera’s suicide pact, which changed the course of Habsburg history forever. In this book, Morton takes the same approach to covering the years in Vienna leading up to World War I.

Die württembergischen Königinnen

Die württembergischen Königinnen by Sabine-Thomsen

Subtitle: Charlotte Mathilde, Katharina, Pauline, Olga, Charlotte - ihr Leben und Wirken
Author: C. Sabine Thomsen
Publisher: Silberburg Verlag
Year: 2010
Available at: Amazon

I ordered this book from Amazon a couple years ago. Okay, more than a couple...like, probably, 2018. Two queens of Württemberg have connections to my research subjects, and I figured this accessible book would give me a good intro to them. The women in question are: (1) Queen Charlotte Matilda, second wife of King Friedrich of Württemberg (his first was Augusta of Brunswick, my research subject), and (2) Queen Olga, cousin of Grand Duchess Elizaveta Mikhailovna (first wife of Hilda of Baden’s father). It took me forever to get to because of the need to scan and translate it, but now that I have, I’m glad I did.

What royal history books have you read this year? Send me a message to recommend your favorites!

Here’s to another great year of royal reading & research in 2022!


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