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Topics - s.v.markov

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The Tudors / 'The Sisters who would be Queen'
« on: February 12, 2009, 02:37:05 PM »
A new book recently published here in UK ~ 'The Sisters who would be Queen' ~ The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey, by Leanda de Lisle (Harper Press, 2008). It's already on Amazon, with a good reduction in price. An excellent book, real scholarly history. The author gives us the 'brief life and grim times of Lady Jane Grey and her family in merciless clarity and dazzling detail. This is a marvellously told and quite terrifying biography' (Telegraph, 17.01.09). Don't expect the traditional Victorian portrayal of LJG as the hapless child-victim, but rather see a questioning, intelligent young woman with a sense of her own dignity and an unfailing Protestant faith. Unlike most books on this subject, this one does not end with Jane's execution, but goes on to look at the subsequent lives and deaths of her two sisters Katherine and Mary, who were both named as heirs to Elizabeth by their great uncle Henry VIII.

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Having Fun! / Whose Christmas?
« on: December 24, 2008, 12:42:40 PM »
I like to read about the way Christmas was celebrated in various Russian palaces. Whose Christmas is being described here? Why not have a guess, and add another Christmas extract for us to read?

"At Christmas my Father was particularly joyous, and Christmas was the peak of our year. Days before, the trees would be brought out and set up. Then the doors of the great reception hall would be closed; then mysterious preparations, half-sensed, would go forward all around us; then, and only then throughout all our year, would the brooding calm of that great palace be driven away and replaced by a joyous and delicious agitation. As Christmas Eve approached our excitement became so intense that it required all the vigilance of our nurses to keep us from stealing a look behind those closed doors. To calm us they would take us driving, but Christmas lights and decorations and the gay holiday spirit of the crowds that thronged around our carriage in the streets only excited us the more. Finally the great moment came. When we were dressed Father came for us. He led us to the doors of the closed reception hall and made a sign. The electric lights within the hall were snapped off, the doors thrown open. Before our enchanted eyes appeared, in that immense dark room, the magic trees, ablaze with candles. Our hearts stopped beating, and tremblingly we entered after our father. He made another sign; darkness vanished; along the walls appeared tables covered with white cloths and on these tables were the gifts. Our first glance at those tables, our first confused, rapturous attempt to see everything at once ~ no joy that I have experienced in all the years since can be compared to that!"

A very Happy Christmas to all AP members!


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For UK folk : Tuesday 22nd July, at 8.00pm, on Channel 5 ~ 'Riddle of the Romanovs : Revealed'.  The listing says : ' Are new remains in Russia those of the two children missing from the grave of the Russian Royal Family assassinated in 1918?

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Simon Sebag Montefiore (author of 'Stalin : The Court of the Red Star' (2003)) has just had his latest book published here in the UK. 'Sashenka' is the fictional story of a woman who lived in Russia through 'privilege, revolution, war and terror'. Mr Montefiore is currently touring
Britain to promote his book, and will be in my city on July 9th. In a recent press release, he said : 'I have always passionately wanted to write accessible but well-researched history for the widest possible readership and thought fiction would take this a step further.'

My copy of 'Sashenka' is due any day now. I will report on it in due course, and of course on Mr Montefiore's talk on July 9th. (svm)

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Having Fun! / Dedications
« on: April 30, 2008, 06:09:59 AM »
Many of the Romanov-related books that we like to read, collect and share have interesting dedications from their authors to other family members, friends and confidantes. I thought it might be fun to post a few of them here, and see if forum members can recognise the books from which they are taken. Please don't post the answers on the thread before other people have had a chance. You can PM me if you want to check your answers. Why not post a few of your own, taken from your own book collection?

Just name the book and the author. They are in no particular order, but cover the years 1922 - 2008 :

1) 'To all my American friends, whose kindness and help opened to me the gates of a new life in a new world, I affectionately dedicate this book.'
2) 'To my brother Dmitri : 'Where'er the call of destiny may lead us.
                                     Wherever happiness may make us go,
                                     A foreign land, the world, for naught can change us,
                                     Our only home is Tsarskoie-Selo.'           (Pushkin)
3) 'Dedicated naturally to Michael, without whose very justifiable 'nagging' this book might have been started, but certainly never finished, with gratitude and love.'
4) 'To my Empress, with love and fidelity eternal.'
5) 'By her gracious permission, I have the honour to dedicate this book to her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess Xenia of Russia, in gratitude for her many kindnesses to me, and in memory of other days.'
6) 'Dedicated to the memory of my Russian Grandmother, 'the bold and beautiful _____________,' in the hope that some (but not too much!) of her remarkable courage and spirit lives on still at least in her great-grandchildren.'
7) 'T0 H.I.M. Alexandra, the late Empress of Russia : Adieu, c'est pour un autre monde.'
8) 'For L. and P., who continually teach me what really matters.'
9) 'For my children and grandchildren, and in memory of my dear friend Countess Lydia Tolstoy, who encouraged me to write this book.'
10) 'Although some people may find that I have repeated much of what I have written before, I hope they will forgive this last attempt to silence the rumours which continue so persistently to malign my father, to whom I dedicate this book in loving memory.'

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A piece on the 'Duplicate Books' thread recently set me thinking ~ just how many of the relatives, staff and associates of the IF signed copies of the books they wrote about them? We know GD Marie signed copies of the first edition of 'A Princess in Exile' (1932) ~ indeed, the fact that a special page was inserted for her signature might mean she signed EVERY copy of the first edition! And how many was that, I wonder? 2,000 maybe? I don't know. Of course she needed the money by that time, so the incentive of a genuine signature may have persuaded more people to buy. Similarly, I can imagibe GD Alexander must have signed copies of 'Once a Grand Duke', and 'Always a Grand Duke'. although I have never seen any. Does anyone know of any other family members or servants who autographed their books? I'm sure Anna Viroubova, Lili Dehn, Sophie Buxhoeveden and all the others would have taken great pleasure in signing copies for their friends and family! I wonder if any of these autographed copies have survived?

Going one step further away from the family, I have seen copies of 'The Last Grand Duchess' nicely signed by Ian Vorres, and a 1932 copy of 'Dissolution of an Empire' signed by Meriel Buchanan. Her father also signed copies of his two-volume work 'My Mission to Russia'. I've seen copies of Irina Galitzine's 'Spirit to Survive' with hand-written dedications and signatures by the author as well. Capt. Evan Cameron signed copies of his 'Goodbye Russia' in 1934. It describes how he and his crew assisted Russians in distress by giving them safe passage after the Revolution. Finally, my own favourite is a 1927 copy of 'Last Days at Tsarskoe Selo' on the fly-leaf of which the author's wife (Countess Benckendorff) has written a charming dedication to her grand-daughter, and signed it on her late husband's behalf.

A signature or dedication certainly gives a book a more personal touch, and an even greater pleasure to own. Can any other forum members shed any further light, or give us any more examples?

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Having Fun! / 'Desert Island Dacha' !!
« on: September 26, 2006, 03:15:00 PM »
In the UK there is a very long-running weekly radio programme called 'Desert island Discs'. Each week, a well-known celebrity or personality is asked to select the eight pieces of music he or she would like to have with them if they were stranded alone on a desert island. The person is also allowed one book (in addition to the Bible and the works of Shakespeare which are already there) and one luxury item (as long as it's of no practical  use, e.g. a boat for escape!).

I have adapted this format many times, and used it as a 'fun activity' for students of all ages on a wide variety of topics. Here is the latest adaptation, with a definite AP flavour. I hope it will appeal to some of you, and encourage you to take part.

RULES : Imagine you are living alone in a remote dacha somewhere in Central Europe. You have all the basic needs for survival with you, but you have nothing to remind of you of your consuming interest in Eurpean royalty. You are to choose EIGHT items of royal interest, which will delivered to you in the dacha. They can be anything you like, as long as there is a 'royal' connection ~ objects, pieces of music, books, films, pictures, clothing, royal pets even, but no people. The items will be delivered at weekly intervals, and you can choose the person who delivers them to you, but they are not allowed to stay. As a special treat (your luxury), the person who delivers the eighth and final item will be allowed to stay with you and become your friend/companion/partner (you choose).

As this is 'pure fantasy', usual historical rules are suspended!! You can mix up eras, centuries, dynasties etc. And I emphasise it is a 'fun' activity, which I have used at the end of a hard term, or after the completion of a difficult topic. I hope it does not offend the academic purists!!

Here's a version from me to start the ball rolling.............

WEEK 1 : B.I. Kaptesov, formerly Director of the Central State Archive, delivered to the dacha the complete set of personal diaries written by the Imperial Family (including OTMAA), requesting that I edit them and prepare them for publication. I agreed.

WEEK 2 : The Artist F.X. Winterhalter delivered three original portraits of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria (Sisi), which he had painted in the 1860's, requesting that they be hung in the dacha. I'll try and find room for them.

WEEK 3 : Charles Sidney Gibbes, tutor to the Imperial Family's children, called on his way back to Oxford and left a large box with me for safe-keeping. It contains a large number of items from his time as tutor to the children, including paintings, exercise books, an ornate crystal chandelier and hundreds of photographs on glass plates. I agreed to look after it for him.

WEEK4 : Peter Carl Faberge arrived at the dacha with 57 packages, each one containing a different Imperial Easter Egg. 11 had been made to the order of Alexander III, and 46 to the order of Nicholas II. He was especially anxious that I should check the 'surprise' in each egg. I agreed to take the eggs, but I don't know if I have room in the dacha to exhibit them all.

WEEK 5 : A servant of the Empress Elizabeth arrived with a large hound, which answers to the name of 'Shadow', requesting that I should take it in and look after it while the Empress is in the area. I agreed, but goodness knows what I shall feed it on.

WEEK 6 : Today the Curator of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University called by to drop off several large leather-bound photo albums, containing thousands of pictures of the Imperial Family and their households. He said that all the photos had now been safely transferred to the website, and there was no further use for the originals. I said I would take them off his hands.

WEEK 7 : A member of staff from the State Hermitage Museum delivered a catalogue of items from the travelling exhibition which are now on sale to the public as the Museum needs to raise funds. I chose an icon of 'The Holy Mother of Kazan' in a silver setting, inventory number ERO-6501, price 10. It will look nice in my study.

WEEK 8 : Ian Vorres arrived. He is writing up the memoirs of the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, and has agreed to meet her here at the dacha and stay for a few days to talk to her and prepare his book 'The Last Grand Duchess'. The GD has given permission for me to sit in on the interviews if I wish. She has also said she would like to stay on at the dacha for the whole summer to complete a series of paintings. I have agreed to this. Hope she gets on with 'Shadow'.

Now over to you! Who will be first to go into the 'Desert Island Dacha'?

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Having Fun! / Just a little game....
« on: April 04, 2006, 03:28:00 PM »
One of my old students and I have developed a novel way of apologising for not contacting each other as regularly as we ought, by saying that we have been in Russia taking part in events there during the reign of N & A (Yes, I know, completely silly, but fun!). The only rule is that the accounts have to be accurate apart from one deliberate error, which the other person has to spot. This has been going on for three years now, but here is an extract from the last message I received :
'As usual, I have to apologise to you, esteemed tutor, for failing to write for such a long time, but you see I was invited to Livadia for two weeks leading up to the ball to celebrate the sixteenth birthday of Olga Nicolaievna, and of course I had to go. It is wonderful there and everything was so perfect ~ the climate was just right and the new palace has to be seen to be believed. Olga herself met me when I arrived. I hadn't seen her since we met on the Isle of Wight when the Imperial Family came to see their English relations. We had plenty to talk about, and I was thrilled to see her sisters and brother again too. We spent most of the days outside, playing tennis, reading, just relaxing, and we even went shopping in Yalta several times with only one lady-in-waiting. The Ball itself was a splendid occasion. Everyone had presents for Olga. Her necklace (a gift from her parents) was made of 32 jewels, one for each of her name days and birthdays since she had been born. Her hair was up for the first time. Her dress was long and flowing, in the most delicate shade of blue imaginable. She danced nearly every dance with a different young officer, and as the night progressed, everyone agreed she was the perfect Grand Duchess. I shall never forget that night.....'

And the deliberate mistake is.............???

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