The Biography of Princess Peggy Abkhazi
by Katherine Gordon
When Princess Peggy Abkhazi died in 1994 in her adopted hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, she not only bore a royal title, she also ruled over an exceedingly beautiful garden that had won international acclaim. It was a far cry from her unremarkable birth into tenuous circumstances in Shanghai.
Born plain Marjorie Carter in 1902, by the age of three she was an orphan, her sole legacy bankruptcy at the hands of her alcoholic and gambling-addicted father. She was rescued from these circumstances when a wealthy English taipan from Shanghai and his young wife impulsively adopted her, renaming her Peggy.
During the course of Peggy’s tumultuous life, her path intersected many of the watershed events and locations of the twentieth century. She lived on the English Channel during the First World War; studied music in Paris in the bohemian twenties (where she met her future husband, Georgian prince Nicholas Abkhazi); and experienced life as an expat socialite in Shanghai during its racy thirties heyday. In the meantime, despite many suitors, she remained unmarried for much of her life, acting as companion and caregiver to her widowed adoptive mother.
Most remarkably, Peggy not only suffered internment in a Japanese camp in China during the Second World War, but she kept a clandestine journal during her entire two and a half years there. This journal was later published (and recently reprinted; see p. 15), offering a unique window onto the internment experience and illuminating Peggy’s equally unique strength of spirit.
An unforgettable biography, A Curious Life traces the path of Princess Peggy Abkhazi’s fascinating life, from Shanghai to Canada, from pauper to princess.
Biography, 210 pp, 6 x 9, over 125 photos, paper, $22.95
ISBN 13: 978-1-55039-125-1; ISBN 1-55039-125-9