Princess Helen of Russia SerbiaTragic Archive of Letters 1958-1962 to Viscountess d'Illiers
Extraordinary archive of letters written by Princess John Constantinovich of Russia nee Princess Helen of Serbia (1884-1962), between 1958 to 1962, to French aristocrat Viscountess Jeanne d'Illiers. telling the tragic story of the last few years of a woman brought up in the height of luxury to someone who died in abject poverty in France. These passionate letters show vividly the plight of many Russian emigres. The letters which were written in French are full of despair at her life. She is constantly on the move looking for the cheapest type of accommodation and surviving on handouts from the Viscountess who has taken pity on her. She talks about how she feels abandoned by her family, and hopes to finish her memoirs, which could be a source of income, but never happened due to an unscrupulous manager.
These letters come from the archive of the d'Illiers family. In total there are twenty-four signed letters, eight of which are with their original envelopes, there are also three postcards from Helen to the Viscountess. In addition to these there are two letters from the Viscountess to Helen and an additional five letters from friends of the Viscountess discussing the plight of Helen. There is also the business card of an hotel in Nice presumably one that she stayed, and a receipt for a box of Chinese tea sent by the Viscountess to Helen who subsequently returned the receipt to the Viscountess. There is also a photocopy of the rare Memoir 'J'etais a l'Ekaterinebourg' by Helen that was published in French and this has been translated into English. The letters from the Viscountess were returned to her following the death of Helen in 1962.