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In his spare moments in-between the intriguing business of sleuthing artworks from around the globe, Corfield Morris director Martyn Downer finds time for his other passion – writing. His latest book is the engrossing true story of suppressed passion and domestic intrigue at the very heart of Queen Victoria’s court and centres on Sir Howard Elphinstone - the forgotten figure of Victoria's realm. It reveals a unique portrait of the frail woman at the heart of a vast Empire, and the truth behind her most notorious servant, John Brown.

As one of the dashing heroes of the Crimean war, Elphinstone was awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of just 29. He was to become a bodyguard and diplomat, confidant and spy….. As he recuperated from his battle injuries, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert selected him to be governor to their third son, Prince Arthur, later Duke of Connaught. After Albert's death, Elphinstone became not only a surrogate father to Arthur and his siblings, but also Victoria's most trusted ally - and an extraordinary friendship developed which lasted until his tragic death by drowning in 1890.

Elphinstone's diaries and his prolific and intimate correspondence with the Queen (much of which has never been published before) shed remarkable new light on her complex personality and on life inside her court. His story portrays in vivid detail the opulence and decadence of the expanding Empire and then the bitter rivalries and series of tragedies which rocked the palace during the years of the Queen's long seclusion following Albert's death.

‘The Queen’s Knight’ is published by Bantam Press on 7th May 2007, price £25

Martyn Downer studied history at Edinburgh University before pursuing a career in the art business, latterly as the head of the jewellery department at Sotheby's in London. His first book, ‘Nelson's Purse’, was published in 2004 to critical acclaim (details at He regularly lectures and contributes articles to art and antiques magazines as a director of Corfield Morris ( ), the international art sleuths and advisers. He came across the untold story of Sir Howard Elphinstone through family connections as his wife, Sam, is Elphinstone's great-great-granddaughter.

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Janie Joel on 020 8874 8669 (Author's PR for PA/interviews only) or email

For Transworld Publishers, excerpts and review copies, contact: Laura Sherlock on 020 8231 6732 or

Praise for Nelson's Purse (Martyn Downer’s first book):

‘a richly satisfying picture of 19th-century power, personality and influence’
Sunday Times

‘Downer's account is a gripping read…’
The Spectator

‘A truly riveting story of assiduous detection and fine scholarship… a total triumph’
Simon Winchester

‘Fascinating…. Downer's rich, highly personal account stands out among other
Nelson-related books.’
Daily Mail

‘Downer has a good story to tell and does so in high style’.
Literary Review

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Corfield Morris in the following categories: Entertainment & Arts, Women's Interest & Beauty, for more information visit