Sarah Ferguson has announced her first romantic novel for adults based on the life of a distant ancestor.
Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is already an established children’s author, and is the creator of Budgie the Little Helicopter, which became a television series.
But this new book, Her Heart For A Compass, published by Mills & Boon, is her first for adults and follows extensive research into her own family for its main character.
It will centre around Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, though the duchess admits there was not much she could find out, and so she has had to imagine much of the detail.
The Duchess of York said: “It all started with researching my ancestry. Digging into the history of the Montagu-Douglas Scotts, I first came across Lady Margaret, who intrigued me because she shared one of my given names.
“But although her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, were close friends with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I was unable to discover much about my namesake’s early life, and so was born the idea which became Her Heart For A Compass.
“With real historical events and facts to hand, my imagination took over. I invented a history for her that incorporated real people and events, including some of my other ancestors.
“I created a friendship between my heroine and Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s sixth child, and I drew on many parallels from my life for Lady Margaret’s journey. I have long held a passion for historical research and telling the stories of strong women in history through film and television.
“I am proud to bring my personal brand of historical fiction to the publishing world.”
Ferguson, 61, was married to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and the Queen’s second son, but they split up in 1992.
She was stripped of her HRH status at the time, but continues to be known as the Duchess of York.
She now lives with her former husband in Windsor, and is the mother of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Andrew, 60, stepped back from royal duties in November 2019 after a “car crash” interview with BBC Newsnight about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.
According to the publishers, Ferguson’s novel is “rich in historical detail and grounded in extensive research” and will “offer a compelling look at Victorian England in the wake of Prince Albert’s death and the fascinating journey of a woman, born into the higher echelons of society, who desires to break the mould, follow her internal compass (her heart) and discover her raison d’être – and falling in love along the way”.
The novel is written with Ferguson’s “collaborator and mentor, Marguerite Kaye” who has written more than 50 Mills & Boon books.
Mills & Boon publish hundreds of romantic novels each year and the name has become synonymous in British culture with overly sentimental or sexual stories.
Executive publisher for Mills & Boon Lisa Milton said: “Across TV, film and books, history continues to grow in popularity. This brilliant sweeping story is perfect for our existing readers as well as reaching fans of bestselling novelists such as Philippa Gregory and Anne O’Brien.
“Mills & Boon are honoured to publish the Duchess of York’s debut novel as we move into our next century of publishing brilliant books by women for women.”
Ferguson’s novel will be released on 3 August in the UK and the US.
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