Richness of material and richness of style make this an unusually pleasurable book by the famous author of Edward VIII and The Reign of Queen Victoria. Here are delightfully varied stories, many of them gathered from the author's own experiences.
One chapter deals with Mr. Bolitho's visit, at the invitation of King Carol, to Roumania, where he met Queen Marie. He reproduces for the first time some enchanting letters written by the Queen to a young American she had never met. These, together with Mr. Bolitho's portrait, reveal all the force of a candid, lively, and multi-colored personality. Another chapter deals with the author's unusual experiences as guest of Abdullah, the Amir of Transjordan, in his palace in the desert.
Mr. Bolitho also writes of the tragic fate of Prince Albert's mother. Excerpts from the letters of this naive but lively young woman, written before and during the scandal which surrounded her divorce, clear up many misconceptions about her character.
A delightful chapter describes the journey of Dean Arthur Stanley of Westminster with Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, to Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece and Malta. Another chapter tells of seven devout Quaker ladies—one of whom visited America in 1793—of the Darby family, noted for its experiments with "Iron Goods in Sand out of the Blast Furnace that blow'd with wood charcoal." The final chapter, "A Late Victorian Man of Letters," is based on letters by Mowbray Morris to Albert Baillie.
Hector Bolitho is the author of some thirty books of fiction, biography and travel; and is well known here, not only for his books, but also for his scores of lectures throughout the country. He was born in New Zealand, and has traveled in the South Sea Islands, Africa, Australia, Canada, the United States, Germany and Palestine. For six years he lived in Windsor Castle, gathering material for books which have made him famous as the historian extraordinary of England's Royal Family. Mr. Bolitho's stories and articles have appeared in many periodicals in this country. During World War II he served as Intelligence Officer with the Royal Air Force.