Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (otherwise known as Fergie), is no stranger to the world of book publishing: She’s written two historical nonfiction books: “Victoria and Albert: Life at Osborne House” and “Travels with Queen Victoria,” two memoirs: “My Story” and “Finding Sarah,” and a number of children’s books, including the Little Red series, Budgie the Little Helicopter series, “Ballerina Rosie,” “Tea for Ruby” and “The Helping Hand” series.
Recently, she’s tried her hand at historical fiction with a personal twist: “Her Heart for a Compass,” (William & Morrow), out Aug. 3, which she co-wrote with historical author Marguerite Kaye. The inspiration struck while looking up information about her own namesake and great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott.
“It all started with researching my ancestry,” the duchess has explained. “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.’ ”
The novel is a richly detailed look at Victorian England in the aftermath of Prince Albert’s death, focusing on the personal journey of Lady Margaret, a highborn yet free-spirited woman who decides to follow her heart and individual purpose rather than simply existing in the mold that had been set out for her at birth. The journey takes her to Ireland, America and back to Britain.
And if it all sounds more than a bit like Ferguson herself, that’s not by accident.
“I invented a history for her that incorporated real people and events, including some of my other ancestors,” Ferguson has said. “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.”