A local author has expressed his delight at the worldwide success of a book that gives readers a unique insight into the lives of the Russian royal family.
Peter Rodgers, of Driffield, works as Media Officer at Burnby Hall and Gardens in Pocklington which is home to The Stewart Museum, an attraction dedicated to the artefacts of the Hall’s original owner Major Percy Stewart.
One of the exhibits housed by the museum is a diary written by Percy’s brother Herbert, and this is the basis of Peter’s book, “Mr Stewart and the Romanovs”.
“Herbert’s diary is a unique artefact as it contains just 11 entries starting in March 1917 at the start of the Russian Revolution. At this time, Herbert was working as a tutor to the children of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrova, who was the sister of Tsar Nicholas II,” explained Peter
“Herbert tutored the children from 1907 right through to 1918 and the job took him all the way across Europe and to the family’s summer retreat in Crimea. This meant he was at the heart of the family’s day to day lives.”
A decision to loan the diary to Treasure House in Beverley prompted Peter and his colleagues at Burnby Hall to delve further into Herbert’s past, and after an internet search they discovered two further photographs of him.
“After finding the pictures on the internet, we then found out that these were part of the Ricketts Collection. This is housed at the National Media Museum in Bradford and is where we found 22 photo albums full with images of Herbert and the family.
“These hadn’t been seen for around 100 years and ranged from family photographs to ones that include royal relatives. This shows how highly regarded Herbert was by the family,” said Peter. Using information garnered from the Collection, Peter wrote “Mr Stewart and the Romonovs”, and the book was published in 2014.
“We initially thought the book would be a nice accompaniment to our museum but since it was published we’ve been inundated with enquiries about it and we’ve sent it to various places around Europe.
“The biggest coup for us thus far was being given a slot in Royal Russia which is a specialist magazine based in Canada. Recently, the book has also been sent to a heritage museum in St Petersburg. It’s spiralled into something quite significant”
Peter is now in demand as a speaker and he was a guest at the February meeting of the Wolds U3a where he discussed the book and its origins.