In the 1870s, a young American woman had a passionate relationship with Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich (1850-1918), the first-born son of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich and Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna, and a grandson of Emperor Nicholas I.
Her account of the 28 months in Russia is a love story, not only of her love for the Grand Duke, but also for Russia itself. She had written a book accounting her story, and only a few copies of her book survived. Now, Eva and Daniel McDonald bring this story to readers in Fanny Lear: Love and Scandal in Tsarist Russia.
Harriet Clarissima Ely Blackford, also known as Fanny Lear, was an American courtesan in the late 19th century – a strong, independent woman who refused to accept the restrictions placed on women by society at the time.
In her short, adventure-filled life, Harriet’s travels took her from Philadelphia to the social heights of Europe and ultimately to Tsarist Russia, where an affair with the Tsar’s nephew culminated in her arrest and expulsion from Russia. Various diplomatic reports from the U.S. State Department detail the scandalous events and the dire implications of this ill-fated love affair.
Once out of Russia, she reportedly wrote this account in English over the course of 11 days and then supervised its translation into French. Published under the title Le Roman d’une Americaine en Russie, it was an instant bestseller. Her story brought on diplomatic pressure from Russia that caused her expulsion from France and Italy, although she continued to be a prominent figure in the social and celebrity sections of the European media during the 1870s and ’80s.
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© Paul Gilbert - Bookseller. 19 June, 2012