On 17 July 1918, four young women walked down twenty-three steps into the cellar of a house in Ekaterinburg. The eldest was twenty-two, the youngest only seventeen. Together with their parents and their thirteen-year-old brother, they were all brutally murdered. Their crime: to be the daughters of the last Tsar and Tsaritsa of All the Russias. Much has been written about Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their tragic fate, as it has about the Russian Revolutions of 1917, but little attention has been paid to the Romav princesses, who - perhaps inevitably - have been seen as mir players in the drama. In Four Sisters, however, acclaimed biographer Helen Rappaport puts them centre stage and offers readers the most authoritative account yet of the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. Drawing on their own letters and diaries and other hitherto unexamined primary sources, she paints a vivid picture of their lives in the dying days of the Romav dynasty. We see, almost for the first time, their journey from a childhood of ermous privilege, throughout which they led a very sheltered and largely simple life, to young womanhood - their first romantic crushes, their hopes and dreams, the difficulty of coping with a mother who was a chronic invalid and a haeomophiliac brother, and, latterly, the trauma of the revolution and its terrible consequences. Compellingly readable, meticulously researched and deeply moving, Four Sisters gives these young women a voice, and allows their story to resonate for readers almost a century after their death.
Helen Rappaport is a historian with a specialism in the nineteenth century. She is the author of eleven published books, including Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs and Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy. She is also the author, with Roger Watson, of Capturing the Light. For more information, you can visit her website at www.helenrappaport.com.
Shortlisted for Spear's Book Awards: Biography of the Year 2014.