Author Topic: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?  (Read 77944 times)

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Offline Helen

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Re: Update on author of "My Empress"
« Reply #225 on: December 29, 2011, 04:55:44 AM »
I just received Prelude to the Revolution: The Murder of Rasputin, (2011) by the late Ronald C. Moe and he identifies the author of My Empress as Alexandra’s First Maid-in-Waiting, Madeleine Zanotti who wrote under the nom de plume of Marfa Mouchanow.  He first mentions this on p. 49 and again on p. 53 when quoting passages from the book.  In his End  Notes on p. 71 he goes into some detail about how important Zanotti’s view are, having written them only months after the first Revolution.  However the late Ronald C. Moe does not go into detail about how he learned Zanotti was the author of My Empress.
I am doubtful whether Madeleine Zanotti was ‘Marfa Mouchanow’. Zanotti was unmarried and only 3 years older than the Empress. She had worked at the court in Darmstadt in the early 1890s, but she was as unfamiliar with Russia and Russian court life in 1894 as Alix was. If she was the author of My Empress, this background makes her account and interpretation of the Empress´ early months/years in Russia less reliable, as she would have had to fill in many gaps in her knowledge of the court and courtiers with second-hand information. A fake identity as a lady of a high rank that made her eligible for such a responsible position at the court  and as a widow of a Colonel who had died shortly before N&A’s wedding may have been useful in such a situation, but it would have been rather stupid of the author to undermine the credibility of her book by misrepresenting any situations she actually did have first-hand information on. Yet this is exactly what Zanotti did, if she was the author behind the alias. My Empress includes at least one statement of which Zanotti must have known it was utter nonsense and which was unfair to the Empress, whose interests Marfa Mouchanow pretended to have at heart: On page 110, Mouchanow states that “Besides the Princess [Galitzyne] there were four maids of honour attached to the person of the young Czarina. The first was the Countess Lamsdorff, with whom the Sovereign could not get on and to whom she took a violent dislike…”. This is a misrepresentation. It’s true that Countess Lamsdorff did leave quite soon, but she didn’t leave because of any conflict with the Empress; she left because she got engaged to the Russian ambassador to Munich. And the Empress did not  take a violent dislike to Countess Lamsdorff. On the contrary, she thought her charming and was very sorry to part with her, and the Countess was in tears when she bade the Empress farewell. [Ref: P. H. Kleinpenning, “The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse”, pp. 188-190] Madeleine Zanotti was staying with the Empress in Russia when Countess Lamsdorff got engaged and left the Empress’ service, so she would have known the truth. If Marfa Mouchanow was Madeleine Zanotti, the author was deliberately telling lies.

I read Mouchanow’s book many years ago and felt that her words had a sly, false ring. Mouchanow pretended that she had “nothing to say but good of the unfortunate Czar and Czarina” [p.94], but her book is actually full of criticism disguised as ‘motherly’ comments. And if I remember rightly, most ‘errors’ in her book didn’t work out in the Empress’ favour, but ‘accidentally’ added more criticism.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 05:03:45 AM by Helen »
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline rudy3

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Re: Update on author of "My Empress"
« Reply #226 on: December 29, 2011, 05:41:01 AM »
In "My Empress" the author writes in the end of her book how she is dismissed and took farewell of the Empress in the Palace in Tsarskoe Selo. Mrs Zanotti followed the Imperial Family to Tobolsk.....

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: Update on author of "My Empress"
« Reply #227 on: December 29, 2011, 06:28:45 PM »
This mix of inside knowledge and nonsense has always added to the book mystery and perhaps it was done purposely  to keep hidden the author or authors . We are  stuck questioning  who wrote it and rarely get to  the why

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Offline rudy3

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #228 on: December 30, 2011, 04:54:51 AM »
Just posting here, to have this thread closer to: "Update on author of "My Empress""
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 11:08:07 AM by Alixz »

Offline Sarushka

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #229 on: December 30, 2011, 08:01:00 AM »
Just posting here, to have thirs thread closer to: "Update on author of "My Empress""

Thanks -- I've merged the two topics to ensure the information stays together.
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
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Offline rudy3

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #230 on: December 30, 2011, 08:22:35 AM »
Thank you, Sarushka, for combining the threads. Together they make interesting reading, isn't it? And now we can go on with this exciting subject.....

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #231 on: January 02, 2012, 10:49:46 AM »
Bob and I were talking about this again. It simply could not have been Zanotti. She was with the Empress her entire life, and was almost her "little sister".  She went to Tobolsk with them. The Empress went into her own jewels to give her a present for her years of service. Afterwards, she went to Victoria Milford Haven, who supported her, and then she went back to the Neue Palais in Darmstadt to run the house.  When the Nazis tried to evict her, she starved herself to death rather than leave.  I simply can't fathom someone so devoted to the family could write that book.  I think it was a serious mistake for the author to attribute "My Empress" to Zanotti without some genuine substaniation. Bob now refuses to read the book as a result of this.  I also have great doubts now as to why he didn't read Richard Cullen's forensic examination of the Rasputin murder, which is the single most important piece of the puzzle IMO.

I'll finish it tho.

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #232 on: January 02, 2012, 10:12:09 PM »
I think as long as one tries to make one person fit as the author  this book, it will confound. I believe it's a stew. It's not just how it  was written...but how it rocketed to publication and was in  the book stores in Aug 1918....just as news of the family's murder ( or at least the Tsar's death ) was coming out. Also, after reading this entertaining stew,  can anyone see AF having this person with her for the whole  23 years? She's constantly telling Alix's she's wrong lol!

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #233 on: January 03, 2012, 09:58:11 AM »
I'd forgotten "My Empress" was in the stores so early.  That is the clue as to why Zanotti could not possibly be the author. She was still in Tobolsk at that point and had not yet gotten out to England!

Offline griffh

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #234 on: January 03, 2012, 06:43:29 PM »
GREAT POINT....

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #235 on: January 03, 2012, 07:19:41 PM »
Indeed. One can't forget the timing...we have so little else to go by. Not only was the book in stores in 1918,  but sections were published in the Aug 1918 Ladies Home Journal, with art work. The  magazine went to press months before and so the book must of been complied well before even that.

I think when it ends is a clue to its beginning and it was concocted soon after the family was sent to Siberia.  Whatever, it was very well connected to appear that fast and in such a manner. The speed tells us it was made for a reason...if that was found, perhaps the authors would be as well . It's not simply one person penning thier memories....those books appeared later in the 20's

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Offline historyfan

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #236 on: January 03, 2012, 09:00:09 PM »
Maybe this has been brought up before, but if indeed the author of "My Empress" is not one person but several, perhaps their names can be found embedded in the pseudonym "Marfa Mouchanow"? Any codebreakers among us?

Alixz

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #237 on: January 04, 2012, 10:48:32 AM »
So the family left Tobolsk in two parties beginning in the spring of 1918 but Zanotti was still in Tobolsk in July of 1918. Nicholas and Alexandra and Marie left Tobolsk in April of 1918 and the others left on May 23.

When did Zanotti get out of Tobolsk and into service with Victoria Milford-Haven? When she went back to Neus Palais did she run the house for Ernst?

Someone who gave such unswerving loyalty to a family does not look likely to have written a book where she disparages her employer.

Does anyone know what Zanotti thought of Ella?

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #238 on: January 04, 2012, 11:17:07 AM »
Zanotti was left behind in Tobolsk when the rest went to Ekaterinburg.  She stayed there and left the same time the Gibbes and Buxhoeveden did. Yes, she ran the house for Ernie. I don't know what she thought of Ella. But I can tell you that Bob is in contact with Zanotti's great niece in England these days.

Alixz

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #239 on: January 05, 2012, 03:02:05 PM »
How odd that Moe would use her as the source for My Empress.  Is there anyone who helped him do his research or editing or anything else with the book who might be able to shed some light on his reasons?