The Dowager Empress and the Duesenberg

D
Maria_Fedorovna_by_V.Makovskiy_(1912,_Russian_museum)

Empress Mariya Fyodorovna, née Princess Marie Sophie Frederikke Dagmar of Denmark, 26 November 1847–13 October 1928

Princess Dagmar, called Minnie, was the fourth child and second daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark (Father-in-Law of Europe) and Queen Louise Wilhelmine Frederikke Caroline Auguste Julie (of Hesse-Kassel). Her closest sibling was her older sister Alexandra, Queen of England from 1901–10. Indeed, their sons Nikolay (Nicholas II) and George so resembled one another as to be frequently mistaken for one another.

In 1864, Princess Dagmar was betrothed to Tsesarevich Nikolay of Russia, Tsar Aleksandr II’s heir. Nixa, as he was nicknamed, was cut from the same liberal, reforming cloth as his father. Alas, Nixa took sick on a tour of Southern Europe, and died of meningitis on 24 April 1865, aged only 21. Dagmar was heartbroken, not only over the loss of Nixa, but also because she’d become so emotionally attached to Russia and her would-be parents-in-law.

Tsarevich_Nicholas_Alexandrovich_of_Russia_and_Princess_Dagmar_of_Denmark

Engagement photo with Nixa

Nixa’s last wish was that his younger brother Aleksandr (Sasha) should marry Dagmar, and in June 1866, they became betrothed. She was warmly welcomed into the Romanov family, converted to Russian Orthodoxy, took the name Mariya Fyodorovna, and became Tsesarevna after her marriage to the future Aleksandr III on 28 October/9 November 1866. By all accounts, this was a very happy, loving marriage. Unlike many previous Tsars, Aleksandr III never cheated on his wife, and was a loving, involved father.

1888._Семья_императора_Александра_III

Their marriage produced six children—Nikolay (Nicholas II), Aleksandr (died at 11 months of meningitis), Georgiy (died in 1899 of TB), Kseniya, Mikhail (the short-lived final Tsar, by some views), and Olga. After they assumed power in 1881, they moved from Anichkov Palace to Gatchina Palace. During her reign as Empress, Minnie really shone at court, and the Russian people adored her.

In 1919, she and her daughter Kseniya’s family escaped the new Soviet Union on the HMS Marlborough, sent by her nephew King George V. Though a woman of her stature didn’t make it a habit of mingling with commoners, she was such an inspiration and help to her subjects while they waited for rescue. Her final act on Soviet soil was refusing to get on that ship unless all the wounded soldiers and any civilians wanting to escape were also evacuated. The British listened to her!

She ultimately settled in her old summer home Hvidøre, south of Bellevue Beach in Klampenberg, Denmark, with her favourite sister, Alexandra. She passed away at age 80, having outlived four of her six children.

Maria_Fyodorovna_(Kramskoj,_1880s)

In my alternative history, after the restoration of the monarchy, the Dowager Empress returns to the Mariyinskiy Palace in Kyiv, and, as in real life, isn’t afraid to give her opinion on her late daughter-in-law Alix and how royalty should behave. She doesn’t have a cordial relationship with her one living daughter-in-law, Countess Natalya Brasova, since Natalya is a twice-divorced commoner instead of a royal princess of the blood. She’s also horrorstruck Aleksey wants to go to the Sorbonne instead of immediately coming to the throne in his own right and marrying as soon as he’s of age.

Copyright Stahlkocher

The luxurious Duesenberg (manufactured 1921–37) is far and away my most-desired antique car. I love it so much, I frequently write it into my books. I’d be like a pig in slop if I ever actually owned one of these beauties. Who wants to start out with a fairly affordable, easy to find Model T when you can have a beautiful Duesenberg?

In my alternative history, Aleksey receives a dark blue Duesenberg as an 18th birthday present from his oldest sister and brother-in-law, Grand Duchess Olga and Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich (the younger).

Déjà Vu Blogfest 2012

Deja Vu

D.L. Hammons of Cruising Altitute 2.0 is hosting the 2012 Déjà Vu Blogfest, in which participants repost a favorite blog post from 2012, perhaps one that never got enough attention the first time round. For most of this year, I was still learning the art of getting my average post down to under 1,000 words, so it was a bit of a challenge.

“My Dream Hobby” was originally published on 8 May, and paid tribute to some of my favorite antique cars. I’ve liked cars since I was a little kid and had toy cars. I’m so grateful that my parents raised me and my little brother as people, not stereotypes erroneously based on biological sex. It never occurred to me that being interested in cars was a “guy” hobby. I just happen to like old cars.

***

For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by antique cars, Brass Age cars in particular. They just have such interesting shapes and colors, and call to mind a simpler time. And since I write 20th century historical, I get to incorporate my love of antique cars into my writing. I’ve seen some classic cars I like, but I far prefer the shapes of antique cars. If I ever have enough money, space, and time, my dream hobby is to own, repair, drive, and show antique cars.

These are a couple of the antique cars I’ve featured or mentioned in my books, which are also among my favorites:

The Duesenberg was a luxury automobile owned by royalty and celebrities. It stopped manufacturing in 1937, and today the cars can go for several million dollars. This is my dream antique car, particularly in red. My villain Boris Aleksandrovich Malenkov and semi-antagonist Mr. Seward (Max’s dad), one of my favorite adult characters in my Atlantic City books, both have red Duesenbergs. There’s also a scene with a blue Duesenberg in my recently-completed first volume about Jakob DeJonghe.

The Rochet-Schneider, another luxury car, was like the French version of Rolls-Royce. Ivan’s maternal aunt Valeriya and her second husband Grigoriy Golitsyn, a deposed prince, buy a sea-green Rochet-Schneider after they come to America in 1920.

The French Delahaye, a high-end car that was produced till 1954 and which was a big symbol of French patriotism during WWII. It won the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally, the Million Franc Race, and humiliated the Nazis in the 1938 Pau Grand Prix when Jewish driver René Dreyfus beat their Mercedes-Benz. Jakob DeJonghe is going to buy this particular model, in that color, as his first American car in 1946.

The Peugeot, an upscale French car. This 1935 model, in that color, is owned by Kees (Cornelius) and Gusta (Augusta) ter Avest, the older couple whom Jakob and his mother Luisa move in with after his father’s murder at the start of the book. Jakob later risks very serious consequences to drive the car (loaded with his beloved bicycle and some other important possessions) to a sympathetic Christian family in the nearby Jordaan neighborhood for safekeeping, after an edict forbidding Jewish ownership of cars and bicycles.

The 1926 Chrysler Imperial Touring. Ivan and Lyuba come into the possession of this beauty after they and their friends Aleksey and Nikolas mete out appropriate justice to some scumbag who did something awful to Lyuba and Ivan’s daughter Darya, their third child and their first blood daughter together. He confesses that he never committed any of his crimes in the car, so they don’t feel wrong about taking it for themselves.

The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, a 1920s limo. This car is driven by Mr. Glazov, the Russian Uncle Tom who runs the iron factory Ivan, Aleksey, and Nikolas work at.

Not all Model Ts were black. The Model T (1921 version) is owned by Ivan as his first American car, and by Lyuba’s uncle Mikhail.

The Model A, which debuted in 1927 as the new, improved version of the old Model T. Lyuba’s mother and stepfather acquire one in 1929.

The Russo-Baltique, Russia’s very own car manufacturing company in the early 20th century. It was recently revived with modern models. In my first Russian novel, this car is owned by Ivan’s father, and is the car where Lyuba and Ivan have their first kiss in March of 1917. It’s also owned by their dear friend Pyotr, who risks his life by double-crossing his Bolshevik father and older brothers to get his friends out of the Soviet Union.

My dream hobby

Words on Paper

Tuesdays in the Blog Me MAYbe Blogfest are themed “May I tell you something about myself?” For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by antique cars, Brass Age cars in particular. They just have such interesting shapes and colors, and call to mind a simpler time. And since I write 20th century historical, I get to incorporate my love of antique cars into my writing. I’ve seen some classic cars I like, but I far prefer the shapes of antique cars. If I ever have enough money, space, and time, my dream hobby is to own, repair, drive, and show antique cars.

These are a couple of the antique cars I’ve featured or mentioned in my books, which are also among my favorites:

The Duesenberg was a luxury automobile owned by royalty and celebrities. It stopped manufacturing in 1937, and today the cars can go for several million dollars. This is my dream antique car, particularly in red. My villain Boris Aleksandrovich Malenkov and semi-antagonist Mr. Seward (Max’s dad), one of my favorite adult characters in my Atlantic City books, both have red Duesenbergs. There’s also a scene with a blue Duesenberg in my recently-completed first volume about Jakob DeJonghe.

The Rochet-Schneider, another luxury car, was like the French version of Rolls-Royce. Ivan’s maternal aunt Valeriya and her second husband Grigoriy Golitsyn, a deposed prince, buy a sea-green Rochet-Scheider after they come to America in 1920.

The French Delahaye, a high-end car that was produced till 1954 and which was a big symbol of French patriotism during WWII. It won the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally, the Million Franc Race, and humiliated the Nazis in the 1938 Pau Grand Prix when Jewish driver René Dreyfus beat their Mercedes-Benz. Jakob DeJonghe is going to buy this particular model, in that color, as his first American car in 1946.

The Peugeot, an upscale French car. This 1935 model, in that color, is owned by Kees (Cornelius) and Gusta (Augusta) ter Avest, the older couple whom Jakob and his mother Luisa move in with after his father’s murder at the start of the book. Jakob later risks very serious consequences to drive the car (loaded with his beloved bicycle and some other important possessions) to a sympathetic Christian family in the nearby Jordaan neighborhood for safekeeping, after an edict forbidding Jewish ownership of cars and bicycles.

The 1926 Chrysler Imperial Touring. Ivan and Lyuba come into the possession of this beauty after they and their friends Aleksey and Nikolas mete out appropriate justice to some scumbag who did something awful to Lyuba and Ivan’s daughter Darya, their third child and their first blood daughter together. He confesses that he never committed any of his crimes in the car, so they don’t feel wrong about taking it for themselves.

The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, a 1920s limo. This car is driven by Mr. Glazov, the Russian Uncle Tom who runs the iron factory Ivan, Aleksey, and Nikolas work at.

Not all Model Ts were black. The Model T (1921 version) is owned by Ivan as his first American car, and by Lyuba’s uncle Mikhail.

The Model A, which debuted in 1927 as the new, improved version of the old Model T. Lyuba’s mother and stepfather acquire one in 1929.

The Russo-Baltique, Russia’s very own car manufacturing company in the early 20th century. It was recently revived with modern models. In my first Russian novel, this car is owned by Ivan’s father, and is the car where Lyuba and Ivan have their first kiss in March of 1917. It’s also owned by their dear friend Pyotr, who risks his life by double-crossing his Bolshevik father and older brothers to get his friends out of the Soviet Union.