Donald Rayfield

Making of an Empress

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman


Head of Zeus 625pp £25 order from our bookshop

Catherine the Great reckoned that over her lifetime she had just twelve lovers. If that was the case, her lovers have been outnumbered by her biographers, who often resemble the former in their infatuation or calculating exploitation, their brilliance or their inept fumblings. Robert K Massie, acclaimed for his biographies of Tsar Nicolas II and his consort, and of Peter the Great, is certainly both enamoured and brilliant – the advocate that anyone accused of heinous crimes, as Catherine the Great has been, would want on the Day of Judgement. He also writes as well as any living novelist. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter