Michael Nelson Books



Michael Nelson

Michael Nelson was General Manager of Reuters (www.reuters.com), the international news organisation. Nelson was born near London on 30 April 1929. He was educated at Latymer Upper School, London, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. He joined Reuters as a journalist in 1952.

Since he retired from Reuters in 1989 he has written three books - War of the Black Heavens: The Battles of Western Broadcasting in the Cold War (Syracuse University Press and Brasseys, London, 1997); Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera, (I.B. Tauris, 2001) and Americans and the Making of the Riviera (McFarland, 2007). 

Nelson, who lives in Notting Hill, London, and Opio, France, is married to the former Helga den Ouden and they have two sons and one daughter.

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Americans and the Making of the Riviera
Michael Nelson

Americans and the Making of the Riviera

 Now available

This is the first book devoted to the unsung American achievement of creating the summer season on the French Riviera: before the Americans arrived in the 1920s of the last century visitors came only in the winter.

The first important American to visit the Riviera was Thomas Jefferson in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century the eccentric James Gordon Bennett Jr., owner of the New York Herald, poured millions of dollars into making Beaulieu-sur-Mer a leading resort. But Cole Porter invented the summer season on the Riviera. He and his wife rented a house on Cap d'Antibes for two summers and invited the wealthy Americans Gerald and Sara Murphy to stay. The Murphys then invited Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. And thus was the new season launched.

Other personalities on the Riviera in the twenties included Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan, Rex Ingram, Rudolph Valentino, Man Ray, Harpo Marx, James Thurber, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet. 

The Lost Generation created the Jazz Age, the Crazy Years.

Paperback: 232 pages Publisher: McFarland & Co Inc (15 Dec 2007) Language: English

ISBN-10: 0786431601 ISBN-13: 978-0786431601 Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.2 x 1.4 cm RRP: TBC

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Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera
Michael Nelson

Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the French Riviera

 Now available

In the Spring of 1882 Queen Victoria, at the age of 62, arrived for the first time on the French Riviera. That region, which she called a "paradise of nature", wrought a transformation to the last two decades of her life. Whenever she arrived on French soil her face lit up and she shed many of the inhibitions of her life in England. She came to the Riviera nine times, more often than to any other part of continental Europe. "Oh, if only I were at Nice, I should recover," she said as she was dying.

She spent much of her time on the Riviera with her strange companions, her dour Scottish gillie, John Brown, the subject of the recent film, "Mrs Brown", and her troublesome Indian secretary, the Munshi, Abdul Karim. John Brown, who did not like the Riviera and who thought Irish revolutionaries were plotting to assassinate the Queen there, amazed the locals by wearing a kilt together with a topee. The courtiers threatened to strike if Abdul Karim came to the Riviera, but he came nevertheless.

Guests included extraordinary European royalty, such as the reprobate Leopold II, King of the Belgians, who on his death-bed married a former prostitute, and his daughters, Louise and Stephanie, central characters in two of the greatest royal scandals of the nineteenth century.

The visits to the Riviera by the Queen Empress Victoria, the monarch of what was then the most powerful empire in the world, were important to the area and to France because they affirmed and strengthened the Riviera's role as the leading holiday centre for the British, for other Europeans and the peoples of the Americas. She showed the world that the Riviera was not just a place for convalescence, but also for holidays.

The importance of her presence is shown by the increase in visitors during the two decades of her visits, by the concern of the French at the damage which would be done to the tourist industry if she were to cancel her trip in 1899 because of bad relations between France and Britain, by the many hotels, cafes and roads named after her and by the number of statues erected to commemorate her.

The Queen stayed in Menton, Cannes, Grasse, Hyères and finally in Nice. In Nice she stayed on two occasions in the Grand Hotel and on three in the great fin de siècle Hôtel Excelsior Régina, which was built with her needs in mind. There she received President Faure and Empress Eugénie and Sarah Bernhardt performed for her. The Monarch had fun in France and particuarly enjoyed throwing flowers at the young army officers at the flower festivals. One of her ladies in waiting said that on the Riviera she enjoyed everything as if she were 17 instead of 72. She described it in her journal as "this beautiful country I so admire and love."

The book relates the places where the Queen stayed and visited to the many buildings that are still there today.

The work is based on research in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, the Public Record Office and in archives in the Alpes-Maritimes. It includes much unpublished material from the Queen's journals, which give a unique insight into her character in the last years of her reign.

The book is lavishly illustrated in colour and black and white. The illustrations include reproductions of anti-British French postcards, with one of the Queen riding on a bottle of gin, extravagant Belle Epoque posters and drawings of her activities.

Paperback: 224 pages  Publisher: Tauris Parke Paperbacks (30 April 2007) Language: English

ISBN-10: 1845113454 ISBN-13: 978-1845113452 Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 1.8 cm RRP: TBC

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The French Riviera - A History
Michael Nelson

Now available

The French Riviera - A History. It ranges from the Terra Amata in Nice, occupied from 380,000 years ago and one of the oldest inhabited pre­historic sites in the world, through wars and revolutions, to the establishment of the Silicon Valley of France in Sophia-Antipolis in 1974.

Michael Nelson shows the surprisingly cosmopolitan nature of the area in the early middle ages by his description of the finishing school run by Frankish kings in the 7th century where Siagrius, the ruler of the region, had studied and where the son of king Edwin of Northumbria in England was also sent.

Colour maps and plates illustrate the book and it is full of fascinating anecdotes. Examples are the loan of a guillotine by Nice to Grasse in the French Revolution and the occasion when Jean Moulin, the leader of the French Resistance in World War II, invited the Germans to the opening of an art gallery in Nice which he was using as a front.

Available now through amazon.co.uk or visit http://www.michaelnelsonbooks.com

Paperback: 128 pages Publisher: Matador (28 Oct. 2016) Language: English

ISBN-10: 1785898337 ISBN-13: 978-1785898334 Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 0.8 x 23.4 cm

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Signed copies of books are also available from the English Book Centre, Valbonne, France.

The English Book Centre
12 rue Alexis Julien
Tel. 04 93 12 21 42

Information and photographs kindly supplied by Michael Nelson Books