John Van der Kiste

John Van der Kiste (born 15 September 1954 in Wendover, Buckinghamshire) is a British author, son of Wing Commander Guy Van der Kiste (1912–99). He was educated at Blundell's School in Tiverton, where he briefly formed a rock band Cobweb with fellow pupil Miles Tredinnick, later the vocalist with the new wave band London and subsequently a playwright and scriptwriter, and read librarianship at Ealing Technical College, where he edited the librarian students' magazine.

His first book, Frederick III, appeared in 1981, and since then he has published several historical biographies, as well as books on local history, true crime, rock music, fiction and drama. He is also a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Guinness Rockopaedia, and has produced articles on historical, musical and art subjects in national and local journals, including Illustrated London News, Royalty Digest, European Royal History Journal, Best of British (magazine)|Best of British, BBC History Magazine, Record Collector, Antique Collector, This England, The Independent and Gibbons Stamp Monthly. He has reviewed books and records for the press, written CD booklet notes, and between 1991 and 1996 edited and published the 1970s rock fanzine Keep on Rockin.

In 2002, he was a consultant for the BBC TV documentary The King, the Kaiser and the Tsar, first broadcast in January 2003.

In 2015, "I'll Never Walk Away", a song which he co-wrote with Miles Tredinnick under his music business alias Riff Regan, and Steve Voice, appeared on Regan's solo album Milestones.

He lives in Devon. For some years he was an assistant in the Library and Learning Resources Centre at City College Plymouth, formerly the College of Further Education, where he was commissioned to write a history of the college for internal circulation.


Historical and royal biography

  • Frederick III, German Emperor 1888 (1981)
  • Queen Victoria's family: a select bibliography (1982)
  • Dearest Affie: Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, 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)
  • George Fitzclarence (2012) e-book only
  • Alfred (2013), revised version of Dearest Affie
  • The big royal quiz book (2014)
  • The Prussian Princesses (2014)
  • Prince Henry of Prussia (2015)
  • Princess Helena: Queen Victoria's third daughter (2015)
  • The last German Empress: A life of Empress Augusta Victoria, Consort of Emperor William II (2015)
  • Charlotte and Feodora (2015)
  • Dictionary of Royal Biographers (2015)
  • The first German Empress: Empress Augusta, Consort of Emperor William I (2016)
  • Queen Victoria and the European Empires (2016)
  • Daughter of Prussia: Louise, Grand Duchess of Baden, and her family (2017)
  • Of Royalty and Drink (2017)
  • The end of the German monarchy (2017)
  • The Dukes of Clarence (2018)
  • Sarah Forbes Bonetta (2018)
  • C.S. Forester's Crime Noir (2018)
  • The Dukes of Cumberland (2019)
  • The heroine of Gaeta (2019)


  • 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
  • Roy Wood: The Move, Wizzard and beyond (2014)
  • The Little Book of The Beatles (2014)
  • The big music quiz book (2015)
  • Jeff Lynne: The Electric Light Orchestra, before and after (2015)
  • Pop Pickers and Music Vendors (2016)
  • A Beatles Miscellany (2016)
  • We Can Swing Together: The Story of Lindisfarne (2017)
  • Electric Light Orchestra: Song by Song (2017)
  • While You See a Chance: The Steve Winwood story (2018)
  • Led Zeppelin: Song by Song (2018)

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)
  • The Little Book of Devon (2011)
  • The Little Book of Cornwall (2013)
  • Plymouth: A City at War (2014)
  • Hugh Shortland (2019)


Drama and verse

  • A Mere Passing Shadow (2015)
  • The man on the moor (2015) - a dramatisation of his novel
  • Dartmoor and other places: Collected poems 1975-2015 (2015)


  • International Writers and Authors Who's Who
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