Monday, December 15, 2008

Guest Blogger: Christina Croft

I'm delighted to announce that tomorrow, Scandalous Women welcomes it's first guest blogger, biographer and novelist, Christina Croft. Christina is the author of a biography and novel about Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia.

Elizabeth, called Ella, was the sister of Tsarina Alexandra and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Like her sister, Elizabeth was also murdered by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. But before her death, her marriage to Grand Duke Serge, was subject to the most vicious rumors, and she was suspected of having an affair.

Christina Croft was born in Warwickshire in 1961, the youngest of three children, and was brought up to appreciate literature from an early age. Her childhood memories of holidays are of visiting historic buildings and the homes of famous authors, playwrights and poets.

Following an academic education at Notre Dame Grammar School in Leeds, she studied English and Divinity in Liverpool, gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. In term time she carried out voluntary work in a soup kitchen for the homeless, and during the summer vacations she worked voluntarily as a guide in Lourdes, living in the Pyrenean Camp des Jeunes, and leading group tours for people from all over the world.

After gaining teaching experience, she acted as a private tutor to a family in France before returning to England, where she worked as a nursing auxiliary. She has taught English, History, R.E. and French in schools and colleges, to children from the ages of four to eighteen. After obtaining a Diploma in Health Education and qualifying as a Registered Nurse, she worked in hospitals and the community. Her many faceted experiences, and knowledge of both French and Italian, have been invaluable in her understanding of human nature, and to her writing.
Christina has written from as far back as she can remember, her earliest success coming at the age of twelve when a poem was accepted for publication. Since then she has published two books of poetry as well as writing for the poetry magazines Aereopagus, Helicon and Cherrybite. Working as a poet-in-the-community, she worked with children of different backgrounds, assisting them to express themselves through literature, and participated in the creation of an anthology of their work.

She has co-written two musicals - Branwell, based on the life of Branwell Bronte; and Tsaritsa based on the life of Alexandra, the last Tsarina of Russia - and written the lyrics for songs which have been recorded and performed on local radio and by choirs at concerts in churches, village halls and schools. She has also written and performed in comic reviews. In 2003, Christina's biography of Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna of Russia, was short listed for the Biographers’ Club Award.

Her new novel, The Counting House, - described by various English editors as ‘a wonderful evocation of childhood’ ; ‘eminently suitable for publication,’ and ‘wonderfully adaptable for film or television’ - brings together varied experiences as seen through a child’s eye view of the world.

Christina's innate ability to take us into the kingdom of childhood, as well as into the kingdoms of those who have ruled, is uncanny. Her books are lived in, rather than read and put aside, feasts for the soul, engaging the heart and imagination. If the work of Charles Dickens was merged with that of Barbara Pym, it might approach the sheer quality, and immediacy found in Christina's work.

She currently lives in Yorkshire, where she is working on a fifth novel and pursuing historical research with a view to writing further non-fiction works based around the lives of the European royal families in the 19th century.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Christina's post on Grand Duchess Ella.

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