Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of Meriel Buchanan (1886-1959)

Meriel was the only daughter of Sir George Buchanan, diplomat (1854-1924), and his wife Lady Georgina Meriel Bathurst (d 1922). Her childhood was spent in the various European cities to which her father was posted, including Darmstadt and Sofia. In 1910 Sir George was appointed as ambassador to the Russian imperial court.

The Buchanan family remained in Russia throughout the war and the revolution of March 1917. Lady Georgina took over the organization of a hospital for wounded Russian soldiers in St Petersburg, and Meriel Buchanan worked as a nurse there. The work was very distressing, involving the treatment of appalling wounds with little equipment and few supplies. Her diary gives a vivid impression of the effect that war had upon diplomatic society in St Petersburg in 1914. The family left Russia in January 1918.

After publishing some stories around the time of the outbreak of the First World War, Meriel turned to non-fiction, and described the last years of imperial Russia in a number of books and articles published in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1958 she published an account of her father's diplomatic career under the title Ambassador's Daughter.


She married in 1925 Major Harold Wilfred Knowling of the Welsh Guards (d 1954), and had:

  • Michael George Alexander Knowling (b 1929)

Archive Collections

  • Her journal for 1910-1914 (Bu B 6), and her photograph album, 1910-1918 (Bu B 8) form part of the Buchanan Collection held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham

Published Works by Meriel Buchanan

  • Meriel Buchanan, White Witch (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1913)
  • Meriel Buchanan, Tania. A Russian story (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1914)
  • Meriel Buchanan, Petrograd, the city of trouble, 1914-1918 (London: W. Collins, 1918)
  • Meriel Buchanan, Recollections of imperial Russia (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1923)
  • Meriel Buchanan, Diplomacy and foreign courts (London, Hutchinson, 1928)
  • Meriel Buchanan, The dissolution of an empire (London: John Murray, 1932; reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1971)
  • Meriel Buchanan, Anne of Austria: The Infanta Queen (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1937)
  • Meriel Buchanan, Victorian gallery (London: Cassell, 1956)
  • Meriel Buchanan, Ambassador's daughter (London: Cassell, 1958)

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651