Endorsements and Reviews


Article in Boston's Epoch Times, August 2009:
Read Adrian Chamberlain's article in the Victoria Times-Colonist, "Life of a self-made princess," 27 April 2008

From Tim O'Connell's review in the Asian Review of Books, 5 May 2008: "Imperial Masquerade is a well-researched and written biography.... It provides a fascinating and often entertaining peek inside the court of the Empress Dowager and her ill-fated emperor nephew, and gracefully recounts an odd and interesting life." Read full review HERE
To truly understand a culture, one must be a part of it – Princess Der Ling has done this for more cultures than a great majority of the world. "Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling" tells of Der Ling, who lived a life that would put the most trumped up fictional character to shame. Catholicism, Confucianism, American, Chinese are all adjectives that could describe her as a woman, in a time where woman were regarded as little more than second class. An enthralling tale from first page to last. - Midwest Book Review
In his beautifully produced biography, Grant Hayter-Menzies is faithful to Der Ling’s own memoirs, only offering the caveat of dissenting voices, those of Western scholars and the tutor of The Last Emperor Puyi, who was an infant when Der Ling left court, as shadows in her carefully painted screen. Hayter-Menzies allows his dissembling subject to charm us with her painterly descriptions and proclamations for reform in a country as cruel as it was beautiful...Der Ling gives us final glimpses backwards, and for this we can perhaps forgive her delusions of grandeur. - Linda Rogers, Pacific Rim Review of Books

“The last years of the Qing dynasty were a time of rumours, adventures, and mysterious opportunities for the polyglot inhabitants of Beijing. The Memoir written in 1911 by the self-styled ‘Princess’ Der Ling, lady-in-waiting to the Empress Dowager between 1903 and 1905, has always presented baffling problems concerning accuracy and interpretation.  Imperial Masquerade is an ingenious rethinking of the available evidence, and presents an absorbing account of how Der Ling survived at Court, and what it must have been like to work for such a formidable ruler.”

Jonathan Spence, Sterling Professor of History, Yale University, author of Return To Dragon Mountain:

Memories of a Late Ming Man


“An intriguing, insightful portrait of a woman born at  the boundary between two cultures who, in her restless  yearning for celebrity, crossed and re-crossed another boundary—that between reality and fantasy—in an extraordinary life that took her from the Forbidden City of Beijing to the pleasure palaces of America’s  Jazz Age.”

Diana Preston, author of The Boxer Rebellion


“This is a fine book, full of historical surprises. Grant Hayter-Menzies has taken a strange and much-abused figure and brought her back to life with grace and flair. He shows that ‘Princess’ Der Ling really was a lady-in-waiting to China’s Empress Dowager Tzu-Hsi, and really was a member of the Manchu nobility. Outside China, the real Der Ling led a fabulous life as a diplomat’s daughter in Paris, in the company of world-famous celebrities, and then ended in tragedy in America, as sympathetically reconstructed in this charming book.”

Sterling Seagrave, author of

Dragon Lady:

The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China.

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