New York Times best-seller Eleanor Herman offers a rare combination of skills for a historian – her research is intensely scholarly, yet she writes the story in a colorful, witty manner.
“History is so fascinating that it never has to be presented in a boring way,” she explains. “These were flesh and blood people, just like you and me, facing war and plague, falling in love, living among splendid art and gut-wrenching poverty. Sometimes people ask me if I plan to write novels. And I say, with all the things that really happened, who needs to make stuff up?”
Reviewers agree. The New York Times Book Review wrote that Eleanor writes “enlightening social history that is great fun to read.”
The Boston Globe wrote, “Herman’s writing sparkles off the pages.”
The Washington Post called Eleanor Herman “A lot more fun than Danielle Steel or Dan Brown.”
Eleanor calls herself a “Sherlock Holmes of history.” To research Mistress of the Vatican, she traveled to Italy hot on the trail of documents related to Olimpia Maidalchini and Pope Innocent X, and found a cache of their letters. She visited Olimpia’s palace in the Piazza Navona in Rome (now the Embassy of Brazil), her villa outside the city (now used by the prime minister of Italy for entertainment), and the papal palace of the Quirinale, (now the ceremonial palace of the President of Italy.) She visited Olimpia’s birthplace in Viterbo, 50 miles north of Rome, her tomb in San Martino, the town she built for dowerless girls, and her country hunting lodge, gracefully falling to ruin.
Eleanor read countless diplomatic dispatches, letters, and contemporary records on life in seventeenth century Rome. Her fluency in French, German, and Italian has been invaluable in researching sources that have never been translated into English.
Mistress of the Vatican is Eleanor’s third book. Sex with Kings – a history of royal mistresses – appeared in 2004, and Sex with the Queen – a history of queens who took lovers – was published in 2006. Eleanor is a frequent commentator in the media about royal scandals, and has hosted episodes for The History Channel’s show, Lost Worlds, to air in the 2007-8 season. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Eleanor graduated with a degree in journalism from Towson University, studied languages in Europe, and for thirteen years worked for NATO’S Nations & Partners for Peace magazine. She is married and lives in McLean, VA.