This is a rave. A real rave. I am not saying this because I am one of the sellers of Dear Ellen on Amazon. (I sell Eurohistory's books on Amazon, and I get a teeny weeny percentage of each sale.)
I am saying this because this is the best book produced so far by Eurohistory. Dear Ellen ...
is a super photo book of royal photographs ... photographs from the
private albums of Grand Duchess Helen of Russia, who married Prince
Nicholas of Greece and Denmark. They were the parents of three
daughters: Olga (Princess Paul of Yugoslavia), Marina (Duchess of Kent)
and Elisabeth (Countess zu Toerring-Jettenbach.)
The book's dedication is by Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.
Elizabeth's brother, Prince Alexander wrote a remembrance of their
grandmother. Arturo Beeche also had the cooperation of Archduchess Helen
of Austria and her brother, Count Hans-Veit zu Toerring-Jettenbach, the
children of Princess Elisabeth.
The book is divided into 12 chapters: Prince Nicholas (1872-1902); Grand
Duchess Helen (1882-1902); the Wedding (1902); Life Together
(1902-1938); Widowhood (1938-1957); Princess Olga and her family;
Princess Elisabeth and her family; Princess Marina and her family; The
Greeks : Prince Nicholas' siblings; Grand Duchess Helen's siblings;
Prince Nicholas' first cousins; and Grand Duchess Helen's first cousins.
A true treasure trove of many previous unpublished photos. Grand Duchess
Helen was the only daughter of Grand Duke Wladimir of Russia and
Duchess Marie Pavlovna of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Marie Pavlovna was
determined to find a good husband for Ellen. Prince Max of Baden was the
man most likely, but the proposed engagement soon fizzled out, and
Grand Duchess Helen was left without a fiance. Her mother opened the
Almanach de Gotha in search of another royal husband for her pretty and
well-endowed daughter. Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria and King Albert
I of the Belgians were on Marie Pavlovna's shortlist, but another
candidate emerged for Helen's hand.
Prince Nicholas of Greece was determined to marry Helen, although he was
not on Marie Pavlovna's list. He was a younger son of King George I of
the Hellenes and his wife, the former Grand Duchess Olga Constantinova
of Russia, a prince without true opportunity -- and income.
The wedding on August 29, 1902 turned out to be a true success. Helen
gave birth to three daughters, Olga, Elisabeth and Marina, three of the
most adorable princesses of the early 20th century. Helen and Nicholas
had a happy and fulfilled marriage, a loving relationship that sustained
the Russian Revolution (the murders of close family members and the
loss of the very remunerative appanages), the collapse of the Greek
monarchy, and exile.
After a putative engagement with Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Olga
married Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, a non-dynast to the Yugoslav throne,
who serve as one of three regents during King Peter II's minority.
Elisabeth, known as Woolley, married German Count Carl Theodor zu
Toerring-Jettenbach. The youngest daughter, Marina, made the most
spectacular marriage, when she married Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, son
of King George V and Queen Mary.
One hundred and thirty six pages of pure joy. This is a book that cries out for frequent browsing.
Helen's three daughters were amazingly photogenic, and the strength of
their beauty can be found not only in the lines on their faces, but also
in the grace and determination they had in their private lives. All
three sisters endured struggles and separation, largely due to the
vicissitudes of the second world war.
I could wax lyrical for hours about this book. One of my absolute favorites is the photo is the one on page 97: a tableaux vivant
arranged by Maria Kirillovna of Russia, Alexandra of
Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Wladimir of Russia, Irma of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
and Kira of Russia.
It is nice to see how Grand Duchess Helen's extended family interacted
with each other. I have only seen one photo of Helen's niece, Grand
Duchess Maria Kirillovna's wedding, in 1925, a portrait of the bride and
groom. The British and American press were largely uninterested in this
wedding, even though the bride's mother was born a British princess, a
granddaughter of Queen Victoria. If the Russian monarchy had survived
the first world war, the marriage between elder daughter of the heir
presumptive to the throne and the wealthy Prince of Leiningen would have
been a grand event indeed. But in 1925, the marriage was a media
afterthought. It was so nice to see that Grand Duchess Helen included a
photo of Maria's bridal attendants. All were members of the family. Her
sister, Kira, and two first cousins, Alexandra and Irma of
Hohenlohe-Langenburg, were the bridesmaids, and the two pages were her
younger brother, Wladimir, and Prince Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg
and Gotha, the youngest child of her mother's first cousin, Duke Carl
Eduard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha ... what a shame this photo was not
released as a postcard.
Art Beeche's text offers a rich complement to the myriad of photographs
that offer readers a delicate journey that meanders into the lives of
those who lived in Imperial Russia, Imperial Germany and the fledgling
Grand Duchess Helen and her family experienced wealth we can only dream
about, and in a revolutionary minute, all of wealth was gone. Helen
became more than survivor, she became a can do sort of person can do
when the chips are down. She inherited magnificent jewels, but the true
jewels were Helen's family.
I have one quibble. It would have been really, really nice if Art
Beeche had included an index to the photographs .. it would make my life
The price of the book is $43.95
Where to buy it: