Why did I spent 4 years writing a biography of Angelica Balabanoff

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24.07.2015 Posted in Writing No Comments

I first heard about Angelica by coincidence, on the Internet, while following a discussion on a forum about well-known Russian women who lived abroad. Someone mentioned Angelica Balabanoff, the socialist Russian mistress of Mussolini. “Socialist,” “Russian” and “Mussolini” in one sentence sounded intriguing, and so I decided to take a closer look into her story. After a little research, I Angelica in 1956-Rome  photo by Judy Kellyfound three short essays written about Angelica between 1975 and 1983. Such a dearth of information was not surprising. In fact, this is a rather common situation with women in history whose lives are less known  than those of their male counterparts. So most of the information I  found in the essays came from Angelica’s memoirs My Life as a Rebel. It was out of print. I hurriedly ordered the book from the second-hand-book web-site abebooks.com, and read it immediately when it arrived. Dogmatic and monotonous, the book was a disappointment.

Ready to brush Angelica aside, I gave a cursory look at the bibliographies and noticed that all three essays provided completely different sources of information. After entering her name into the databases of the biggest archives in Europe and America, to my surprise I discovered a wealth of information about the life and secrecies of this incredible person.*

*Extract from the book The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: Life of a Communist Rebel scheduled for publication at McFarland Publishers, October 2015.

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