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Theodore Ian Wilson Aronson (13 November 1929 – 13 May 2003) was a royal biographer with an easy manner which enabled him to meet and earn the trust of his subjects.
The son of a Latvian Jewish storekeeper, he was born at Kirkwood, South Africa and educated at Port Elizabeth High School before studying Art at Cape Town University, where he acted with Nigel Hawthorne. He became a commercial artist with J. Walter Thompson in Johannesburg, then transferred to London, where he also worked part-time as a waiter. His interest in royalty began when he was a schoolboy. He saw the King and Queen and the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret at a siding near Kirkwood in 1947, and was bowled over by Queen Elizabeth's charm and skill with the crowd. Some years later, after visiting the mausoleum of Napoleon III at St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough, Hampshire, he decided to write about royal subjects.
After a change of publisher, he 'was persuaded that dynastic studies were no longer required,' so he began to write studies of the more recent history of the British royal family. (The Times, 20 May 2003)
Charming, highly intelligent, well versed in his subjects, he became known as a devoted, if sometimes quizzical, admirer of British royalty. His research included interviewing several members of the royal family, including Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (about whom he published a biography shortly after her death in 1981), the Queen Mother, and Princess Margaret, as well as numerous courtiers. All were charmed by the small, dapper man who listened respectfully, had a light touch with flattery, yet was not tediously deferential.
The author of twenty-three books, he also appeared in several television documentaries. In his last book, a memoir, Royal Subjects, he acknowledged that during his career as a writer, 'various Kings, and their families, have proved to be devilish good subjects for me,' and that being 'something of an outsider, unrestricted by the British class system' (Royal Subjects, pp. ix-x), had proved something of an advantage for him in being granted almost unprecedented access to royal circles.
Books by Theo Aronson
- The Golden Bees: The Story of the Bonapartes (New York Graphic Society - 1964)
- Royal Vendetta: The Crown of Spain 1829-1965 (Bobbs-Merrill - 1966)
- Defiant Dynasty: The Coburgs of Belgium (Littlehampton Book Services - 1969)
- The Fall of the Third Napoleon (Bobbs-Merrill - 1970)
- The Kaisers (Bobbs-Merrill - 1971)
- Queen Victoria and the Bonapartes (Bobbs-Merrill - 1972)
- Grandmama of Europe: The Crowned Descendants of Queen Victoria (Macmillan Publishing - 1974)
- Royal Ambassadors: British Royalties in Southern Africa 1860-1947 (Littlehampton Book Services - 1975)
- A Family of Kings: The Descendants of Christian IX of Denmark (Weidenfeld & Nicolson - 1976)
- Victoria and Disraeli: The Making of a Romantic Partnership (Macmillan Publishing - 1978)
- Kings Over the Water: The Saga of the Stuart Pretenders (Littlehampton Book Services - 1979)
- Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone (Littlehampton Book Services - 1981)
- Royal Family: Years of Transition (Salem House - 1984)
- The King in Love: Edward VII's Mistresses: Lillie Langtry, Daisy Warwick, Alice Keppel and Others Harper Collins - 1988)
- Crowns in Conflict: The Triumph of the Tragedy of European Monarchy 1910-1918 (Horizon Book - 1988)
- Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (St. Martins Press - 1990)
- Queen Victoria's Scotland (with Michael J. Stead, Cassell Illustrated - 1992)
- Heart of a Queen: Queen Victoria's Romantic Attachments (John Murray Publishers - 1992)
- The Royal Family at War (John Murray Publishers - 1994)
- Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld (John Murray Publishers - 1996)
- Princess Margaret: A Biography (Regnery Publishing - 1997)
- Royal Subjects: A Biographer's Encounters (Sidgwick & Jackson - 2000)
- A Family of Kings (Royalty Digest - 2004)
- Hugo Vickers (27 May 2003). "Theo Aronson: Royal biographer who relished a dynasty". The Independent.[permanent dead link]
- Theo Aronson (16 February 2002). "Honour, duty and divorce". The Spectator.