Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Daughter of Emperor Alexander II

Grand Duchess Marie A. (1853-1920) is a remote figure. She is rarely referred to in memoirs and, if quoted, leaves an impression of a demanding and angry woman.

Anna Tiutchev wrote on December 14th, 1854 “… Tonight I was with the little Grand Duchess [Marie] … [Nicholas I] came to feed her soup … said to me: ‘I come almost every night to feed soup to my cherub, it is the only good moment of the whole day’ …”
The death of Nicholas I in 1855, the ill health of the Empress and the estrangement of their parents, impacted Marie’s and her brothers’ childhood.

Diana Mandache, in her excellent editing of the letters in ‘Dearest Missy’, reveals an authentic portrait. I like the Grand Duchess.
A glimpse into her life is her January 30th, 1891 letter; “… When I was about your age, I used to loose my voice regularly once or twice a year to the intense horror of old Countess [Tolstoy], who tried then to shut me up for weeks until my Mama interfered and said it was nonsense. The old Countess got into a very bad humour, so I don’t know which was worse …”

My chapter on Grand Duchess Marie’s 5th Spare apartment in the Winter Palace includes Anna Tiutchev, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, Marie Fredericks, etc., yet much more needs to be discovered.
Will Grand Duchess Marie’s diaries and letters ever be published? I dream researchers are editing at this moment!

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