Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, has penned her debut novel, a fictional account of her great-great-aunt's life, to be published by Mills & Boon.
Her Heart for a Compass, the Duchess's first fiction title for adults, tells the story of Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, incorporating research into the author’s heritage and drawing on her own unique life journey and experiences.
A deal for UK and Commonwealth rights was negotiated by Rachel Kahan, executive editor at William Morrow, with Lacy Lynch at Dupree/Miller & Associates. Her Heart for A Compass will be published on 3rd August 2021 by William Morrow in the US and Mills & Boon in the UK.
The Duchess explained: “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.”
She joined forces with collaborator and mentor Marguerite Kaye to write the immersive historical saga that “sweeps the reader from the drawing rooms of Victoria’s court and the grand country houses of Scotland and Ireland, to the slums of London and the mercantile bustle of 1870s New York”.
The publisher said: “Rich in historical detail and grounded in extensive research, the novel offers 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.”
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 is honoured to publish the Duchess of York’s debut novel as we move into the next century of publishing brilliant books by women for women.”
The Duchess has written two historical non-fiction books, Victoria and Albert: Life at Osborne House (W&N), and Travels with Queen Victoria (W&N). Those gave her the idea to make a film about the early life of the Queen. She persuaded Julian Fellowes to write the script and the resulting movie, "The Young Victoria", was nominated for 17 awards and received 13 , including three Academy Award Nominations and two BAFTAs.
In addition to writing her memoirs, My Story (S&S) and Finding Sarah (Atria), the Duchess has written a number of children’s books: the Little Red series, Budgie the Little Helicopter Series, Ballerina Rosie (S&S), Tea for Ruby (S&S) and The Helping Hand series. In 2020 the Duchess published several new children’s books: The Enchanted Oak Tree (Serenity), Arthur Fantastic (Balboa) and Genie Gems (Serenity).