Friday, June 26, 2015



There were two discoveries made while writing this volume, among numerous  such which could not be included in the illustrations. But shared they must be, so here they are.

For no reason except intuition, one response to The Fool's Love Story was a desire to know from which real person Rafael Sabatini borrowed the name Kuoni von Stocken. There were many other names in the story but they did not evoke the same feeling.

Then came the novel, The Romantic Prince, and with it an increased curiosity about the name. Later there was the play, The Sacrament of Shame, in which 'Kuoni' appears but not his surname.

With such a multitude of questions, about Rafael's life as well as his writing, for which I sought answers during the past 12 years, 'Kuoni' was only looked for occasionally. Be that as it may, it was like Newton's apple to suddenly find even more than I expected a few months ago, as I wrote the section on the novel which appears in Reading Rafael. Anyone who visits Zug this year will enjoy an added tourist attraction in the shape of an actor in the role of Kuoni von Stocken - the real person, not Rafael's two different characters - for this year the town celebrates the 700th anniversary of a famous event, the Battle of Morgarten. Meanwhile, here is the picture mentioned in Reading Rafael:

In the section on The Lost King is mentioned a sketch by a pupil of David of the young uncrowned king, 'Louis XVII', made during the infamous interrogation of the boy in late 1793. There is a sketch by a pupil of David made in the Temple at that time, a sketch to give one a nasty turn, just such a sketch as Rafael describes but not by 'Florence La Salle':

And those are two unexpected discoveries made while seeking Sabatini because one had been reading Rafael. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


The Cover designs of ROMANTIC PRINCE

First of all, the parchment look of the background comes from a shared antiquarian taste; the paintings, the emblem, the hidden meanings likewise. (It was probably the discovery of how much lay behind the seemingly plain adventure + history + love-story in Rafael's stories that bound me to him. We share a taste for the allusive and the elusive.)

These five paintings - starting from the back cover and clockwise from top left of the front cover - represent the periods and matter of the majority of Rafael's novels: the early to mid-Renaissance; the French Revolution; naval encounters in the late 17th century; and the early to mid-18th century.

The siege is from an illuminated ms, recording some events in the reign of Charles VII of France.
The Taking of the Bastille needs no further comment.
The naval encounter is by Willem van de Velde the Younger, and is called The Cannon Shot.
The lady is Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys, Countess of Pomfret, a traveller and writer, painted by Enoch Seeman. (I see Damaris Hollinstone in her.)
The gentleman is Sir Charles Frederick in Rome on the Grand Tour, painted by Andrea Casali. (I see Harry Gaynor in him.)

Starting with the top of the back cover, there is an emblem of the rose, evidently Rafael's favourite flower. Below is the famous, enigmatic painting by Caspar David Friedrich called The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. He has reddish hair, but that's a small detail. What is he thinking, dreaming, observing, imagining? Will he express his thoughts in a poem, a song - or a novel?

At the top is a coat of arms invented by me for Rafael. He gave azure for a blazon to both Bellarion and Colombino. French history supplied most of his fiction long and short. He was princely. Ergo, the coronet of a Fils de France! Laurels and a quill need no explanation. Note that what's below is not a motto. That would have been in a scroll. It is an honorific title bestowed by me (and approved by many), which gift will not come back to bite me as did a famous title, Fidei Defensor, given to Henry VIII of England .....

The books are a few with the brightest spines from my Rafael Sabatini library.