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Lockdown gave Duchess of York time and space to write first adult novel

For one of the guest speakers at this month’s Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival, ‘lockdown’ gave her the time and space to tell a story she had wanted to write for 15 years.

Whilst Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, has written many best-selling children’s books, and several works of non-fiction, she has just had her debut adult novel published.

Co-written with historical romance author, Marguerite Kaye, Her Heart for a Compass is a fictional account of the life of the Duchess’s great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas-Scott.

Other speakers at the four-day event – being held in The Crown Hotel from Thursday October 21 until Sunday, October 24 – include former Labour leader Ed Miliband, former CPS prosecutor Nazir Afzal,  BBC Newsnight Presenter Gavin Esler, Costa Book of the Year Winner Monique Roffey, and Channel 5’s ‘Dogfather’ Graeme Hall.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and Marguerite Kaye, will be taking to the Raworths Harrogate Literature stage at 2.30pm on Friday, October 22, and will be interviewed by the BBC’s Mark Lawson.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, said: “It’s been an ambition of mine to write this story for the last 15 years. In the end it was about assembling the right team around me to make it happen and having the time to do it.

“Working with my collaborator Marguerite Kaye, and everyone at Harper Collins and Mills & Boon, I’ve finally done it and become a first-time novelist at the age of 61 and I am so proud.

“The coronavirus pandemic, when like everyone else I was locked down with my family, gave me the time to buckle down and write the book.

“There are some obvious parallels between me and my heroine, my great-great aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas-Scott: she’s a redhead; she is determined to make her own way in life; and like me she can be headstrong.

“She also takes up a career in writing, and works really hard for the charitable causes she cares so passionately about.

“But ultimately Her Heart for a Compass is a work of fiction, not an autobiography. It’s a coming of age story charting the journey of a strong woman who strains against the confines of 1860s society, when women were so controlled. I think the challenges Margaret faces will resonate with today’s readers.”

She added: “The main message I would like readers to take away from Margaret’s story is that no matter whether you make mistakes or get it all wrong, you keep going and fight for what you believe is your truth.

You have to lead with your heart. Personally, I feel more robust, authentic, confident in myself and who I am and where I’m going than ever, and that feeling is very much reflected at the end of Margaret’s journey in Her Heart for a Compass.”


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