Princess Catherine Radziwill (1858-1941) – a real character
The Princess Radziwill is an absolute stand-out among the crowd of European nobility of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born on 30 March, 1858, in St. Petersburg, as Countess Ekaterina Adamovda Rzewuska, she was married when 15 years old to Prince Wilhelm Radziwill, and moved to Berlin to live among the huge Radziwill family. She should not be confused with Princess Marie Radziwill (1840-1915), married to Prince Antoni Radziwill, who published a few things and appears as Princess Radziwill née Castellane or as Princess Castellane-Radziwill.
Our Princess was an intelligent, sharp-tongued, and tough woman who looked carefully at the world in which she moved. In 1884 she had published under the name Count Paul Vasili "Berlin Society", a collection of articles first published in French in Juliette Adam's La Nouvelle Revue. The people of whom she wrote were thoroughly outraged; the rest of Europe was greatly entertained. In the next few years this was followed by similar treatments for London, Paris, Rome, Vienna and Madrid. These were followed by a long series of always interesting and entertaining books published under her name and under at least two pseudonyms.
When in the mid-1890's her much-older husband took their daughters away to live under the care of an aunt until "suitable" marriages could be arranged, she realized that her marriage was over. After a few years of wandering in Germany and Russia, the princess, apparently at the urging of long-time friends in the Russian secret police, went to South Africa to "look into" Boer and British concerns. It turned into a mess - she became friendly with Cecil Rhodes; then things went awry. She was charged with forging Rhodes' name on a promissory note, and was eventually imprisoned for more than a year. Her children and most other family members turned against her and she was divorced in 1906 from Prince Wilhelm.
Princess Catherine, who continued writing, then married Karl Emile Kolb-Danvin, a Swedish businessman and engineer, who died suddenly in 1917 while the couple was in the United States. She had lost most of her holdings in Russia in the divorce proceedings of 1906 and the rest was gone after the Russian revolution - leaving her essentially broke.
The Princess spent the rest of her life in New York, writing more books and several magazine articles, introductions to a few books, and making a little money in office work, at one time selling stocks and bonds. In 1941 she fell, broke her hip, and soon after died of a heart attack at the age of 83, on 12 May, 1941.
She used the pseudonyms Count Paul Vasili [Vassili; Vassily], and for at least one book, Hildegarde Ebenthal. The princess also shows up in library catalogues as Catherine Kolb-Danvin, Catherine Kolb, Catherine Danvin, and as Mme. Charles Danvin. Works published as by Count Paul Vasili are here annotated [PV]; that as Hildegarde Ebenthal is noted as [HE].
Find available items by: Catherine Radziwill
Works by Princess Catherine Radziwill:
The following list will serve as an introduction to the Princess' publications. The first few were translated almost at once into English and were soon published in both London and New York.
Books about Princess Catherine Radziwill:
- La Société de Berlin: augmenté de lettres inédites. 1884 [PV]
- La Société de Saint-Pétersbourg: augmenté de lettres inédites. 1886 [PV]
- La Société de Vienne: augmenté de lettres inédites. 1885 [PV]
- La Société de Londres: augmenté de lettres inédites. 1885. [PV]
- La Société de Rome. 1887. [PV]
- La Société de Madrid. 1886. [PV]
- La Sainté Russie; la cour, l'armée, le clerge, la bourgeoisie et le peuple. 1890. [PV]
- The Resurrection of Peter. A Reply to Olive Schreiner. 1900. [ i.e. to Schreiner’s book: Trooper Peter Halkett of Mashonaland (1897)]
- My Recollections. 1904
- Behind the Veil at the Russian Court. 1914 [PV]
- France from Behind the Veil: The Fifty Years of Social and Political Life. 1914. [PV]
- Memories of Forty Years. 1914.
- The Royal Marriage Market of Europe. 1915.
- The Austrian Court From Within. 1916
- Sovereigns and Statesmen of Europe. 1916
- Because it was Written. [fiction]. 1916
- The Black Dwarf of Vienna, and other weird stories. 1916
- Germany under Three Emperors. 1917
- The Tragedy of a Throne. [Ludwig of Bavaria] 1917 [HE]
- Cecil Rhodes, Man and Empire-maker. 1918
- Russia's Decline and Fall: The Secret History of a Great Debacle. 1918
- Confessions of the Czarina. 1918 [PV]
- Rasputin and the Russian Revolution. 1918
- The Disillusions of a Crown Princess; Being the Story of the Courtship and Married Life of Cecile, ex-Crown Princess of Germany. [Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954) married to Frederich Wilhelm (1882-1951), son of Wilhelm II]. 1919. [PV]
- The Firebrand of Bolshevism; The True Story of the Bolsheviki and the Forces That Directed Them.
- Secrets of Dethroned Royalty. 1920
- Those I Remember. 1924
- They Knew the Washingtons; Letters from a French Soldier with Lafayette and from his Family in Virginia, translated by Princess Radziwill. [perhaps written by Princess Radziwill]. 1926
- The Intimate Life of the Last Tzarina. 1928
- Child of Pity: The Little Prince [the Tsarevitch] Rides Away. 1930
- Nicholas II: The Last of the Tsars. 1931
- The Taint of the Romanovs. 1931
- It Really Happened; An Autobiography by Princess Catherine Radziwill. 1932
- The Empress Frederick. [Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa (1840-1901), oldest daughter of Queen Victoria; married German emperor Friedrich III (1831-1888)]. 1934
- Roberts, Brian. 1969. Cecil Rhodes and The Princess.
- Farrant, Leda. 2000. The Princess from St. Petersburg: The Life and Times of Princess Catharine Radziwill (1858-1941)
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