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John Van der Kiste was born in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, but has lived in Devon since childhood. A former library assistant in public and college libraries, since 1981 he has written and published over seventy books, including historical and royal biographies covering the Stuart, Georgian and Victorian eras in Britain, and the ruling German, Austrian and Russian dynasties, including Queen Victoria’s ChildrenKaiser Wilhelm IIEmperor Francis JosephThe Romanovs: Alexander II and his familyThe end of the HabsburgsThe end of the German monarchyKings of the HellenesCrowns in a changing world; titles on contemporary rock and pop music, including biographies and studies of the work of Jeff Lynne and ELO, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Steve Winwood, Steeleye Span and Lindisfarne; and works on local history, true crime, fiction and plays.

He has reviewed books and records for national, local and independent publications and websites, contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Guinness Rockopaedia, and was co-consultant for the BBC TV documentary The King, the Kaiser and the Tsar. His recreations include reading, music and painting.