Amanda Madru

AMANDA MADRU is from Western Massachusetts. She developed an interest in Russian imperial history after visiting a local book sale, where she happened upon an old volume on the life and times of Grigori Rasputin. This book contained photographs of the teen aged daughters of Emperor Nicholas II,  and Amanda was intrigued by the four striking young women close to her own age, who met an untimely and tragic fate a century ago.

Several years later, she discovered the Alexander Palace Forum, and her foray into research began. Initially, her focus was solely on the last imperial family, but countless hours of independent study would broaden her horizons, and she started learning about royal portraiture, the genealogy of the royal and imperial dynasties of Europe, Russian rulers from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II. With an academic background in Women’s Studies, however, she is especially well-versed in the history of the lesser-known wives and daughters of the tsars.

A writer by trade, Amanda holds a B.A. in English and an M.F.A in creative nonfiction. In addition to authoring articles for, she has since assisted author Helen Azar with work on 1913 Diary of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna,   Romanov Family Yearbook and Maria Romanov: Third Daughter of the Last Tsar.


Please contact her via email at



Molly Thatcher at The Hermitage

MOLLY THATCHER grew up in a small village in Berkshire, England. She first became interested in Romanov history through her maternal Grandmother, who had worked as an Au Pair to an exiled Russian noble family in Switzerland. Her grandma remained close with the family and later brought Molly’s mother back to visit the Russian Émigré community.

This personal family connection motivated Molly to explore Romanov history and read any available books on the Romanov family or the Russian nobility. Since then, her interests have expanded to include other areas of Russian history and Russian literature. Her special interest is the influence of Russian Literature on British Modernism and she plans to write her dissertation on this subject. She is also currently in the process of learning Russian.

In July 2018 she travelled to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg to complete an internship program. While there,  she met Helen Azar and became her intern; working as a digital editor for her website redesign and contributing writing to her blog and upcoming book- “Maria Romanov: Third Daughter of the Last Tsar, Her Diaries and Letters”.

While in St Petersburg, she was able to further pursue her love of Russian history and the Romanovs- travelling to Tsarskoe Selo and exploring St Petersburg. Some particular highlights were being able to wander the grounds of the Alexander Palace and visit the Romanov tombs at the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Molly is currently in her second year at the University of Exeter and is studying an English Literature BA. She also currently volunteers at Pushkin House in London- a centre for Russian Culture.

You can contact Molly through her book-related Instagram account @bookish_existence or by email at




Romanov documents translator George Hawkins is from New Zealand and first became interested in the Romanovs at primary school, when he came across a reader about Anastasia. His interest continued to grow and through the ’80s he borrowed as many books about the Romanovs as possible from the library.

At high school George discovered he had an aptitude for languages and while studying Japanese, also began teaching him-self to read the Cyrillic alphabet and some Russian words. Following a year in Japan, George began studying languages at the University of Auckland, including Russian and Russian poetry. He speaks Japanese, Russian and Swedish, with some knowledge of other languages too.

After graduating and training as a teacher, George was accepted onto the JET Program and spent five years teaching and living in Ichikawa, Japan, not far from Tokyo. His interest in Russia led him to visit the Japanese Orthodox Church’s Holy Resurrection Cathedral (also known as Nikolai-do) in Tokyo, where he was later baptised into the Orthodox Christian faith.

During this time, more and more Romanov related material was being released and George eagerly read as much as he could get hold of. He also joined the Alexander Palace Forum and through that struck up a friendship with fellow Romanov enthusiast Helen Azar.

Returning to New Zealand, George began attending the Russian Orthodox Church in Auckland, where he was able to further develop his knowledge and understanding of Russian language and culture. Here he also met his wife Olga. George, Olga and their three children live in Auckland. Russian language and culture form an important part of their lives.  George works as a primary school teacher and is also trained in reading recovery. Aside from the Romanovs and Russian history, he enjoys music, particularly singing (he is a member of the church choir), playing guitar, reading, art and travel.

Over the past couple of years, George has begun translating letters and diary entries of the Romanov family, and among other Romanov related projects, is co-authoring a forthcoming book of letters and diary entries of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra’s third daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna.