Helen Rappaport is an internationally bestselling historian and author of 12 books specialising in the Victorian period and revolutionary Russia, including Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy, and Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917. She is a frequent contributor to television documentaries, most recently Queen Victoria’s Children (2013) and Russia’s Lost Princesses (2014), both for BBC2, as well as programmes about Queen Victoria’s love of the Highlands, Mary Seacole, Rasputin and the Romanovs. Helen lives in West Dorset.
Assistant: Tess David
Telephone: 0207 344 1084
Helen Rappaport will be speaking about her most recent book, Caught in the Revolution, at Museum No. 1 in Kew on Friday 23rd September 2016 at 14.00pm.
Buy tickets here
Caught in the Revolution — Buy it here
‘A gripping, vivid, deeply researched chronicle of the Russian Revolution told through the eyes of a surprising, flamboyant cast of foreigners in Petrograd, superbly narrated by Helen Rappaport.’ Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs
Caught in the Revolution is Helen Rappaport’s masterful telling of the outbreak of the Russian Revolution through eye-witness accounts left by foreign nationals who saw the drama unfold.
Between the first revolution in February 1917 and Lenin’s Bolshevik coup in October, Petrograd (the former St Petersburg) was in turmoil – felt nowhere more keenly than on the fashionable Nevsky Prospekt where the foreign visitors and diplomats who filled hotels, clubs, bars and embassies were acutely aware of the chaos breaking out on their doorsteps and beneath their windows.
Among this disparate group were journalists, businessmen, bankers, governesses, volunteer nurses and expatriate socialites. Many kept diaries and wrote letters home: from an English nurse who had already survived the sinking of the Titanic; to the black valet of the US Ambassador, far from his native Deep South; to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who had come to Petrograd to inspect the indomitable Women’s Death Battalion led by Maria Bochkareva.
Helen Rappaport draws upon this rich trove of material, much of it previously unpublished, to carry us right up to the action – to see, feel and hear the Revolution as it happened to a diverse group of individuals who suddenly felt themselves trapped in a ‘red madhouse.’
PUBLICATION DATE: 25th August 2016
On 17 July 1918, four young women walked down twenty-three steps into the cellar of a house in Ekaterinburg. The eldest was twenty-two, the youngest only seventeen. Together with their parents and their thirteen-year-old brother, they were all brutally murdered. Their crime: to be the daughters of the last Tsar and Tsaritsa of All the Russias.
In Four Sisters acclaimed biographer Helen Rappaport offers readers the most authoritative account yet of the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. Drawing on their own letters and diaries, she paints a vivid picture of their lives in the dying days of the Romanov dynasty. We see, almost for the first time, their journey from a childhood of enormous privilege, throughout which they led a very sheltered and largely simple life, to young womanhood – their first romantic crushes, their hopes and dreams, the difficulty of coping with a mother who was a chronic invalid and a haeomophiliac brother, and, latterly, the trauma of the revolution and its terrible consequences.
Compellingly readable, meticulously researched and deeply moving, Four Sisters gives these young women a voice, and allows their story to resonate for readers almost a century after their death.
Rappaport is insightful in her analysis of Alexandra’s vulnerability [and] illuminates the precise influence of Grigori Rasputin . . . An astoundingly intimate tale of domestic life lived in the crucible of power. (Observer)
[Rappaport] brings to Four Sisters an encyclopedic knowledge of the minutiae of Nicholas and Alexandra’s family life . . . Four Sisters is a study in unity. It demonstrates resoundingly the strength of family ties. (The Telegraph)
A well-written gem . . . a fascinating, in-depth and comprehensively researched study of the imperial daughters. (Daily Express)
Evocative and beautifully researched and told, this is narrative history at its best. (Bookseller)
Poignant [and] well written … Rappaport’s sensitive portrayal of the doomed sisters draws the reader into an attachment to each one. (Mail on Sunday)
One of the greatest skills a historian can possess is to make readers feel as if they have stepped back in time to witness the characters, places and events they describe. In her stunning composite biography, Helen Rappaport achieves this to dazzling and, at times, almost unbearably poignant effect. (Tracy Borman BBC History Magazine)