A shot of David Witanowski as Nicholas II, Katharine Gibson as Alexandra Feodorovna, Amy Ligoci as Olga Nikolaevna, Maya Dwyer as Tatiana Nikolaevna, Elizabeth Russell as Maria Nikolaevna, Esther Richardson as Anastasia Nikolaevna, and Calvin Mele as Alexei Nikolaevich from The Romanovs, a 2011 play written by Garrett A. Heater for the Syracuse-based Covey Theatre Company.

The silence of death: it lay across the terrible jumble of bodies and blood-spattered walls. But Anastasia was still alive, and Marie, too, for as their bodies were carried to a Fiat truck that stood waiting in the courtyard, first one, then the other, suddenly sat up, coughing blood, moaning, screaming. They were outside now, and the men couldn’t shoot them; the bayonets came out, slashing through the air, but the knives struck the hidden jewels. And so someone grabbed a rifle, turned it around, and hammered away at the barely conscious faces, driving the wooden stock down again and again and again. Battered into silence, choking on splintered bone and shattered teeth, drowning in her own blood - this was how Anastasia died.

Greg King and Penny Wilson, Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the world’s greatest royal mystery (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011): 330.


Although the name “Anastasia” is recognized by almost everyone today, most people, don’t know the real story of Anastasia’s life: what it was like to be a royal Duchesses in Russia; how it felt to be imprisoned in the palace and have everything taken away from her; and the terror of being escorted under guard to a small town in Siberia, the family’s final destination. This is a classic fairy tale story without a happy ending, of a princess who had everything in the world until her father’s rule was overthrown and the family were incarcerated and ultimately assassinated. This diary, although a fictionalized version of what fifteen-year-old Anastasia would have written about if her diaries had not been destroyed, was carefully researched and includes true dates and experiences that Anastasia had.

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Anastasia, the youngest, had the liveliest intelligence of all four; whoever was sitting next to her had to be prepared for some unexpected question at any moment.

Alexander Mosolov, At the court of the last tsar (London: Methuen, 1935): 64.

(Source: alexanderpalace.org)

The idea that Anastasia had miraculously survived the brutal execution in Ekaterinburg burst upon a world traumatized by a decade of tragedies that marked the passing of the old order: the sinking of the Titanic, the horrors of the First World War, the fall of dynasties, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the threat of communism. However unlikely, it spoke to natural human optimism, to the desire that somehow, Bolshevik bullets had failed to destroy an entire family.

Greg King and Penny Wilson, Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the world’s greatest royal mystery (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011): 2.

Today, history views Alexandra as a lonely, frightened woman who listened to the wrong advice: Rasputin’s. Nicholas is remembered as a weak ruler, a kindly man who also listened to bad advice: his wife’s. And we are left to wonder what kind of woman Anastasia would have become had her life not ended so early and so tragically.

Carolyn Meyer, Anastasia, the last Grand Duchess (New York: Scholastic Inc., 2000): 190.

Some persons seem endowed with a peculiar and semitragic gift. They live out their lives and die, only to provide drama for the playwright or novelist. Theirs is not the stuff of life but the stuff of fiction. Such a woman was Anastasia, daughter of the last Russian Tsars, supposedly massacred at Ekaterinburg in July, 1918. She lived her life like a princess in a fairy tale, with her bumbling, bourgeois Emperor father the only false note in the royal symphony. Anastasia laughed and played and worked through the hours of her young life, touched with the magic of unreality, carrying a thousand years of august tradition upon her frail shoulders.

In the fairy tales, the princesses lived happily ever after. Anastasia lived in an all-too real world.

Officially, her life was snuffed out by Bolshevist guns in the Ekaterinburg cellar. If it was, she fell - I am sure - with dignity and grace, her silken shirts weighted with the jewels that would have bought her way to freedom.

The historical Anastasia vanishes here, reduced to a grotesque, red-stained doll lying limply across a sack of potatoes; and the infinitely more satisfying Anastasia of legend rises, phoenix-like, from her body.

Edwin Fadiman, Jr., from the introduction to the Signet edition of Anastasia by Marcelle Maurette, 1956.