John Van der Kiste
John Van der Kiste, author, was born in Wendover
Wendover is a market town that sits at the foot of the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire, England. It is also a civil parish within Aylesbury Vale district...

, Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe....

, on September 15, 1954, son of Wing Commander Guy Van der Kiste (1912-99). He was educated at Blundell's School
Blundell's School
Blundell's School is a co-educational day and boarding independent school located in the town of Tiverton in the county of Devon, England. The school was founded in 1604 by the will of Peter Blundell, one of the richest men in England at the time, and relocated to its present location on the...

, Tiverton, where he briefly formed a rock band Cobweb with fellow pupil Miles Tredinnick
Miles Tredinnick
Miles Tredinnick, also known as Riff Regan, is a rock musician, songwriter and a stage and screen writer. In the 1970s, he was the lead singer with the British rock band London. Afterwards he went on to write comedy plays for the stage...

, later vocalist with new wave band London
London (band)
London were a four piece punk band formed in London in 1976 and were best known for their wild stage act. The original line-up was Riff Regan , Steve Voice , Jon Moss and Dave Wight . They were managed by Simon Napier-Bell and recorded two singles, a 4 track EP and an album for MCA Records in 1977...

 and subsequently playwright and scriptwriter, and read Librarianship at Ealing
Ealing is a suburban area of west London, England and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Ealing. It is located west of Charing Cross and around from the City of London. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. It was historically a rural village...

 Technical College, where he edited the librarians’ student magazine.

He has worked for several years in public and academic libraries, but is best known as a writer. His first book, Frederick III, appeared in 1981, and since then he has published over twenty historical biographies, as well as books on local history, true crime, rock music, a novel and a play. He is also a contributor to Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Guinness Rockopaedia, and has produced articles on historical, musical and art subjects in national and local journals, including Illustrated London News
Illustrated London News
The Illustrated London News was the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper; the first issue appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842. It was published weekly until 1971 and then increasingly less frequently until publication ceased in 2003.-History:...

, Royalty Digest, European Royal History Journal, Best of British, BBC History Magazine, Record Collector
Record Collector
Record Collector is the United Kingdom's longest-running monthly music magazine. It distributes both within the UK and worldwide. It started in 1979.-The early years:...

, Antique Collector, This England
This England
This England is a quarterly magazine published in England. It has a large readership among expatriates, especially the elderly. It concentrates on the traditional values and customs of the English people, particularly those of rural and small-town England....

, The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

, and Gibbons Stamp Monthly
Gibbons Stamp Monthly
Gibbons Stamp Monthly is a leading British philatelic magazine which can trace its roots back to 1890. GSM is published by the famous stamps and collectables firm of Stanley Gibbons and each issue includes updates to their various catalogues....

. He has reviewed books and records for the press, written CD booklet notes, and between 1991 and 1996 edited the 70s rock fanzine Keep on Rockin.

In 2002 he was a consultant for the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 TV documentary 'The King, the Kaiser and the Tsar', first screened in January 2003.

He married professional musician and teacher Kim Graham (née Geldard) in 2003 and lives in Devon.

Historical and royal biography

  • Frederick III, German Emperor 1888 (1981)
  • Queen Victoria's family: a select bibliography (1982)
  • Dearest Affie: Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh
    Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
    Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the third Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and reigned from 1893 to 1900. He was also a member of the British Royal Family, the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha...

    , Queen Victoria's second son, 1844-1900

(with Bee Jordaan) (1984)
  • Queen Victoria's children (1986)
  • Windsor and Habsburg: the British and Austrian reigning houses 1848-1922 (1987)
  • Edward VII's children (1989)
  • Princess Victoria Melita, Grand Duchess Cyril of Russia, 1876-1936 (1991)
  • George V's children (1991)
  • George III's children (1992)
  • Crowns in a changing world: The British and European monarchies 1901-36 (1993)
  • Kings of the Hellenes: The Greek Kings 1863-1974 (1994)
  • Childhood at court 1819-1914 (1995)
  • Northern crowns: The Kings of modern Scandinavia (1996)
  • King George II and Queen Caroline (1997)
  • The Romanovs 1818-1959: Alexander II of Russia and his family (1998)
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II: Germany's last Emperor (1999)
  • The Georgian Princesses (2000)
  • Dearest Vicky, Darling Fritz: Queen Victoria's eldest daughter and the German Emperor (2001)
  • Royal visits in Devon and Cornwall (2002)
  • Once a Grand Duchess: Xenia, sister of Nicholas II (with Coryne Hall) (2002)
  • William and Mary (2003)
  • Emperor Francis Joseph: Life, death and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (2005)
  • Sons, servants and statesmen: The men in Queen Victoria’s life (2006)
  • A divided kingdom: the Spanish monarchy from Isabel to Juan Carlos (2007)
  • Jonathan Wild: Conman and cutpurse (2009)
  • William John Wills: Pioneer of the Australian outback (2011)


  • Roxeventies: Popular music in Britain 1970-79 (1982)
  • The Roy Wood story (1986)
  • Beyond the summertime: The Mungo Jerry story (with Derek Wadeson) (1990)
  • Gilbert & Sullivan's Christmas (2000) - anthology

Local history

  • Devon Murders (2006)
  • Devonshire's Own (2007)
  • Cornish Murders (with Nicola Sly) (2007)
  • Somerset Murders (with Nicola Sly) (2008)
  • A Grim Almanac of Devon (2008)
  • Cornwall's Own (2008)
  • Plymouth: History and Guide (2009)
  • West Country Murders (with Nicola Sly) (2009)
  • Surrey Murders (2009)
  • A Grim Almanac of Cornwall (2009)
  • Durham Murders and Misdemeanours (2009)
  • Berkshire Murders (2010)
  • Ivybridge and South Brent Through Time (with Kim Van der Kiste) (2010)
  • More Cornish Murders (with Nicola Sly) (2010)
  • Dartmoor from Old Photographs (2010)
  • More Somerset Murders (with Nicola Sly) (2011)
  • A Grim Almanac of Hampshire (2011)
  • Plymouth Book of Days (2011)
  • More Devon Murders (2011)


  • International Writers and Authors Who's Who
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