Duchess of York’s first novel to be published by Mills & Boon – The Guardian

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson says historical tale Her Heart for a Compass is inspired by experiences in her own life

PA Media

Wed 13 Jan 2021 10.13 GMT

The Duchess of York has landed a book deal with the romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon, revealing that she “drew on many parallels from my life” for the historical tale.

Sarah Ferguson’s debut novel, Her Heart for a Compass, will be released in August and tells a fictional account of the life and love story of her great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott.

Mills & Boon describes it as an “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”.


It follows Margaret, “who desires to break the mould, follow her internal compass – her heart – and discover her raison d’être – falling in love along the way”.

Sarah revealed she came across Margaret after researching her ancestry and became fascinated because Margaret is her middle name.

The duchess has spoken of how she took inspiration from her own experiences when writing the novel. She was pictured in a Victorian-style floor-length outfit, complete with high-necked blouse, jacket and gloves, sitting on a stone bench gazing at a compass she held out in front of her, to promote the work.

She said: “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.”

The cover of Her Heart for a Compass, published by Mills & Boon. Photograph: Mills & Boon/PA

The duchess – the Duke of York’s ex-wife and the Queen’s former daughter-in-law – struggled to come to terms with the rigorous disciplines of royal life after marrying Andrew.

She was cast out from the royals amid her “toe-sucking” scandal in the 1990s, and fell deeply into debt, owing millions.


She once confessed: “I was hopeless from the start … they could never make me the perfect princess.”

The duchess, who has previously written her memoirs, is the author of numerous children’s books including the Little Red and Budgie the Little Helicopter series, and she was an executive producer of the 2009 historical film The Young Victoria.

She has been reading children’s books throughout the pandemic on her YouTube channel, Storytime with Fergie and Friends.

Sarah added: “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 wrote the book with the author Marguerite Kaye, who is described as her “collaborator and mentor”.


Kaye has written more than 50 novels for Mills & Boon set across the ages and her books and novellas have sold more than 1.5m copies in more than 20 countries.

Mills & Boon, the UK’s leading publisher of romantic fiction, was established in 1908. Its books are written by women for women and range from historical romance to rom-com and erotica, and one is sold every 10 seconds in the UK.

Lisa Milton, the executive publisher for Mills & Boon, described the duchess’s book as a “brilliant sweeping story”.

She added: “Mills & Boon are honoured to publish the Duchess of York’s debut novel as we move into our next century of publishing brilliant books by women for women.”

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