Ben McNally Books/Globe & Mail Books and Brunch on April 9

I will be speaking about my latest book Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting at the Ben McNally Books/Globe & Mail Books and Brunch on April 9 at the King Edward hotel in Toronto. Tickets are $55 and must be purchased in advance. Book sale and signing to follow.  Click here for more information

Click here to pre-order my book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting 

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Smithsonian Russian Revolution Series: The Abdication of Czar Nicholas II

Czar Nicholas II under guard after his abdication in 1917

The March article in my monthly series for Smithsonian Magazine about the Russian Revolutions of 1917 is about the abdication of Czar Nicholas II, which took place nearly 100 years ago on March 15, 1917. Since becoming Czar in 1894, Nicholas II had remained in power through a number of crises including Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 and Bloody Sunday in 1905. The difference in 1917 was that Nicholas II lost the support of the military during the First World War and his generals urged him to abdicate in the interests of continuing the war on the eastern front.

Click here to read “The Abdication of Nicholas II Left Russia Without a Czar for the First Time in 300 Years” in Smithsonian Magazine

Sources and Further Reading:

After his abdication, Czar Nicholas II caught up on reading, completing War and Peace  by Leo Tolstoy for the first time while under house arrest. My article begins with a quote from the novel from Part 2, when Napoleon invaded Russia during the reign of Czar Alexander I.

Key documents concerning the abdication of Nicholas II including the telegrams from his generals, announcements by the Duma and the abdication manifesto itself are translated and reprinted in The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution

 The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra has been published in its entirety. Excerpts from the Imperial couple’s letters are also printed in A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story

Dominic Lieven’s latest book discusses The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution. He is also the author of a political biography of Czar Nicholas II entitled Nicholas II: Twilight of the Empire

The impressions of foreigners resident in Saint Petersburg during the Russian Revolutions of 1917 feature in Helen Rappaport’s new book, Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge. Rappaport is also the author of a number of other excellent books about the last Imperial family including The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra and The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg

In The Last of the Tsars, historian Robert Service examines Nicholas II’s political views and his conversations with his household and guards after his abdication.

Numerous members of Czar Nicholas II’s extended family, household and social circle survived the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and fled abroad, where they wrote their memoirs about Russia’s last Imperial family. I include excerpts from three of these works in the article: The Education of a Princess by Czar Nicholas II’s cousin, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, The Real Tsaritsa by Empress Alexandra’s friend, Lili Dehn and Thirteen Years at the Russian Court by the Imperial children’s French tutor, Pierre Gilliard.

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Smithsonian Russian Revolution Series: Russia’s February Revolution Was Led by Women on the March

Skobelev Square during the February Revolution by Aleksandr Gerasimov, 1917

My latest article in my monthly Russian Revolution series in Smithsonian Magazine is about the February Revolution, which precipitated the downfall of the Romanov dynasty. Women played a key role in this political unrest.

“In the country’s urban centers, with men on the battlefield, women took on new roles in the workforce, as they did throughout Europe during the war. Between 1914 and 1917, 250,000 more women began working outside the home for the first time. By the outbreak of the February Revolution, close to one million female workers lived in Russia’s cities, but were paid half the wages of men and endured substandard living conditions. The journalist Ariadna Tyrkova wrote, “Day by day, the war has changed attitudes about woman. It has become increasingly clear that the unseen effort of a woman and her labour often support the entire economy of a country.””

Click here to read “Russia’s February Revolution Was Led by Women on the March” in Smithsonian Magazine 

Click here to read all my articles in the Smithsonian Magazine Russian Revolution series. 

Sources and Further Reading:

The quotation at the beginning of the article is from The Lower Depths, a play written by Maxim Gorky in 1901-1902, which became especially popular following the Russian Revolutions of 1917.

The letter to King George V from Czar Nicholas II quoted in the article is reprinted in A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story. For more information about the relationship between King George V, Czar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II during the First World War, see George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I by Miranda Carter.

Czar Nicholas II’s abdication manifesto, the telegrams from the Czar’s generals requesting his abdication, correspondence between Nicholas and Alexandra in February and March 1917 and documents concerning the Provisional Government’s assumption of power are available in The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution (Annals of Communism Series)

The description of women persuading the workers at the Nobel Engineering works to go on strike is reprinted in Women in Russia, 1700-2000 by Barbara Alpern Engel, p. 134.
Excerpts from the writings of journalist Ariadna Tyrkova are available to read in Russian Women, 1698-1917: Experience and Expression, An Anthology of Sources

An excellent book about Russian women’s lives prior to the Russian Revolutions of 1917 including legal status, political influence, fashion and daily life is Women in Russian History: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Century by Natalia Pushkareva

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Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg begins at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies on March 14, 2017

Peter the Great in 1698

In March, April and May 2017, I will be teaching one of my most popular courses at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies: Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg. Click here to register

When Peter became czar in 1682, Europe had become quite foreign to Russia. Fascinated by the West, Peter was determined to transform Russia into a great European power. In this course, we’ll discover the traditional Russia of Peter’s childhood, his Grand Tour of Europe and his subsequent dream of building St. Petersburg, a new city to match his vision of the country.

With images of the city and accounts of his drive to create it, we’ll see how the city emerged as a symbol of his power and of Russia’s hopes. We will look at the lasting impact of his reign, and find out how and why Russian president Vladimir Putin takes Peter as a role model. Join us for a discussion of the architectural and political legacy of one of the world’s most influential figures.

19th century portrait of Peter the Great interrogating his son, Alexei

What You’ll Learn:

  • Explore the rise of Russia as a world power in the 18th century.
  • Understand the impact of Peter the Great on Russia’s past and present.
  • Follow the founding of St. Petersburg as capital of Imperial Russia.
  • Examine the role of St. Petersburg in Russia’s relationship with the West.
  • Appreciate its influence on Russian culture and society.

Click here to register for Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

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Today Interview: Queen Elizabeth makes history with 65 years on the throne

Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. June 2, 1953

February 6, 2017 is Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee. The Queen is the first British monarch to celebrate a 65 year reign though there have been longer reigns elsewhere in the world. (King Louis XIV of France reigned for 72 years, the longest reign in European history so far). As I discussed with Eun Kim at Today, the Queen plans to mark this historic date quietly as it is also the anniversary of her father King George VI’s death.

Click here to read Queen Elizabeth II Makes History with 65 Years on the Throne

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Quartz Article: The hit Netflix series “The Crown” [and Victoria on PBS] expose all our 21st-century anxieties about powerful women

Claire Foy and Matt Smith as the Queen and Prince Philip in the Netflix series, The Crown

My article in Quartz  discusses how women in power are portrayed on two hit TV shows: The Crown on Netflix and Victoria on PBS. Both Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown and Queen Victoria in Victoria appear as young women who are mentored or challenged by the men who surround them and experience frequent moments of self doubt. In fact, both queens had been trained for their future roles since childhood and were confident queens who were both extremely popular when they first succeeded to the throne. The portrayals of Elizabeth II and Victoria on TV today reflect current anxieties about women in power.

Click here to read “The hit Netflix series “The Crown” exposes all our 21st-century anxieties about powerful women” at Quartz

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Advance Reader Reviews of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

Readers who received advance review copies of my forthcoming book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting are sharing their reviews on goodreads. Raising Royalty will be published by Dundurn Press in Canada in April 2017 and in the USA and UK in May 2017.

Here are excerpts from some of the reader reviews:

“Raising Royalty is a comprehensive study of how…Kings and Queens have raised their children. Twenty families with their widely varying parenting approaches from Anglo-Saxon times to the present are studied.
While the book is a thoroughly researched subject by a scholar, it is a joy to read. It provides a clear picture of how parenting in the rarefied atmosphere of castles and palaces has evolved and, perhaps more importantly, why. Boys were brought up to fight and rule, and girls for dynastic/political marriages. Princes and princesses had no choice one thousand years ago and, one also sympathizes, today their futures are still fixed in stone but with a little more leeway.
Carolyn Harris, the author, has done an excellent job of writing this book for general readership and it will open eyes with the detail and surprises. Recommended for history buffs and royal watchers.” — Julie Ferguson

“I was expecting the book to be entirely be about English royalty, but was pleased to find that it covered enough of Europe to give it some diversity.
Filled with a lot of interesting facts and written in a way that held my attention.
Both well researched and written.” — MissyLynne

“I was expecting a list of “advice” and “lessons” and was pleasantly surprised.
Ms. Harris presents a HUGE amount of history in this book and her skill at writing in a way that keeps the reader engaged and interested is refreshing.
Anyone with any interest in royal families will love this book. It’s a great read. ” — Michelle Griswold

Click here to view all reader reviews for Raising Royalty on goodreads

Click here to pre-order your copy of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

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New York Post Interview: Thank queen of ‘Victoria’ for this Oval Office centerpiece

Portrait of the nineteen year old Queen Victoria on her coronation day in 1838.

Portrait of the nineteen year old Queen Victoria on her coronation day in 1838.

My thoughts about Queen Victoria and her opposition to women’s suffrage have been quoted in the New York Post as part of a list of facts about the famous Queen, who is currently being portrayed by Jenna Coleman in the Victoria TV series on PBS. The quotes are an excerpt from a longer interview with the University of Alberta Faculty of Law blog about Queen Victoria, her family and women’s rights.

Click here to read Thank queen of ‘Victoria’ for this Oval Office centerpiece in the New York Post.

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CBC News Interview: Now Victoria comes to TV: Why Queens are ‘dramatic dynamite’

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria

The ITV series Victoria premieres on PBS on January 15 at 9pm ET. My interview with CBC.ca discusses Queen Victoria, the Netflix series The Crown and why the Stuart queens Mary II and Anne would be ideal candidates for a dramatic treatment of this kind.

Click here to read “Now Victoria comes to TV: Why Queens are ‘dramatic dynamite'”

For more information about Queen Victoria, click here to read my article about Queen Victoria and Canada in the Queen’s Alumni Review and my profile of Queen Victoria in the Canadian Encyclopedia 

My forthcoming book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting includes a chapter about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and how they parented their nine children.

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