Karen Harper

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British Historical Novels


Karen Harper, author of novels of suspense set in past and present


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I have loved writing THE ROYAL NANNY and hope you enjoy reading it.  Although my previous historical novels have been set in Tudor England, I have always been fascinated by the Victorian and Edwardian eras. This time my focus is not a princess or queen, but a lower-class Cockney woman who reared the royal children of an amazing royal dynasty—the family who became known as the Windsors.

I’m a rabid Anglophile.  I went on a research trip to England for NANNY, tied in with a writers’ conference for the Historical Novel Society, to which I belong. I used that time partly to visit the Victoria and Albert and even Buckingham Palace to help me create authentic background for the book.  (No the queen wasn’t at the palace; tours aren’t allowed when she is.)  It was my ninth trip to the U.K., and I loved every minute of it.

Here’s a picture of me after our tour of “Buck House.” 

The photo above is in the area behind the palace where the queen gives her garden parties, and there is a fabulous gift shop.  I could hardly contain myself from buying a variety of things: 

Sandringham is the royal estate there where the queen still spends Christmases, the estate where Princess Diana was born and where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a home.  In case you want to know more about the beautiful site or the royal family through the decades there, here’s a great resource. The picture here is of the 'Big House,' not York Cottage.

A complete list of my research books is in the back of the novel in the extra section with the royal family tree, book club discussion questions, author’s note, etc.

Here’s photo of York Cottage on the estate.  I think the HarperCollins artists did a great job of recreating the scene on the cover of the novel. This photo is by P.J. Marriott and can be found in the Sandringham page in Wikipedia.

It is exciting to have some photos to share of the royals featured in my novel.  To find more photos of all the main characters, try Googling or searching for their names.  Also the fabulous Getty Images site has free photos of the characters. 

Remember, people hardly ever smiled for pictures, as we tend to do now, especially the ‘serious’ royals of those days.  And the downstairs help?  Hardly, indeed.  In the photo below of Charlotte Bill in her later years, can anyone tell whose image is in the portrait on her jewelry?


Portrait of all six royal children below is included in the Wikipedia entry for Mary, Princess Royal

This portrait below of John of the United Kingdom is available in Wikipedia, a photograph by Ernest Brooks from 1913.

Also Wikipedia has a Charlotte Bill photo in their entry about her.

Other photos of Johnnie at www.Google.com/search under Prince John

For a picture of Lala with Mary and Prince Henry, see below:  This is from the Mary Evans Picture Library of Princess Mary and Prince Henry with Mrs. Charlotte Bill.  This is also available for viewing at http://mediastorehourse.com

Below is my favorite picture of Lala and four of her brood (with two nursemaids.)   Lala is seated, holding the baby at that time, George.  Check out the fancy dress on that boy. David and Bertie are the two older boys.  This one I found years ago, but cannot locate the source.  I think it is not on line but must have come from a book.  It’s the one which inspired me to research Charlotte Bill, and so inspired my novel.

I also know I’ve seen the picture of Queen Victoria and her grandchildren which is mentioned in the novel, where Lala had to hide with the queen’s dogs and support the baby so the old lady wouldn’t drop her (Mary).  See page 60 in the novel.  I’m still looking for that picture also. 
There is also a video on YouTube of King George V’s coronation which Lala and the children watched from Marlborough House in London.

You also might want to take a look at “Prince John: the Windsors Tragic Secret” on www.Youtube.com



Photo of Karen Harper by Jeffrey A. Rycus

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