hey i seem to remember that in "A Princess Reclaimed" a nice easy to read biography on Princess Helena, it mentioned her envolvment in this book and some of the problems she had with the original author.
Yes, the book was originally published in German, by an Arnold Bergstrasser, in 1883. It seems he obtained the letters through Queen Victoria, but somewhat bafflingly, she did not give him permission to publish them. (Maybe she had hopes of an English version coming out first?
) Apparently Bergstrasser felt he didn't need the Queen's permission anyway, as he went ahead with publication. (QV's reaction to this is not on record.) The edition contained a biographial sketch of Alice, by a Darmstadt clergyman, Dr. Carl Sell. Soon after the German edition proved to be a success, Princess Helena contacted Dr. Sell and asked permission to translate his text into English, which he readily gave (without contacting his publisher first! :-/). Predictably, Bergstrasser (the publisher) denied Helena permission and claimed he owned copyright of the letters now. Helena insisted that since the actual letters themselves belonged to the queen, she
owned copyright, and that the only Sell's text (the biographical sketch in the beginning) was open for discussion. Bergstrasser finally agreed on a cash settlement, which amounted to £100 for the first 3,000 copies and a further £40 for every 1,000 copies sold. The first English translation included Dr. Sell's original introduction. As the book sold so well in England, a second edition had to be printed in 1885, but this time minus Sell's work, and with a memoir of Alice written by Helena herself.
From 'Helena: A Princess Reclaimed' by S. Chomet:
'The review in The Times
described the Memoir
as 'a touching biographical sketch, written by Princess Christian, containing not only unpublished extracts from Her Majesty's private journals, but the sad story of the death-bed scenes at Darmstadt, described by a devoted friend of the Grand Duchess who attended her in her illness...This loving little memoir by the Princess Christian gives us a higher and clearer insight into the beautiful character of one of the most estimable and loveable of women.'