Maureen Emerson

Maureen, from an Irish-Austrian background, grew up in London – for which she is eternally grateful. She brought up her family in North Africa, Lebanon, Dallas and Singapore, before settling in Provence for twenty-two years. There she worked as a local co-ordinator for CBS and NBC at media festivals in Cannes.

During her years in Provence Maureen became enthralled with the stories of those expatriates who lived on the Riviera in the 1920s and 1930s and how the Second World War affected their lives. While still harbouring a strong affection for Provence, Maureen has now settled in Richmond upon Thames with her husband.

Read Maureen’s fascinating biography, as published
in ‘The Monaco Woman’ magazine here.


In 2018 her latest book, ‘Riviera Dreaming’, was published by Tauris. ‘Riviera Dreaming – Love and War on the Côte d’Azur’ is the factual biography of Barry Dierks, ‘the American architect of the Riviera’ who build or remodelled around 70 of the most stunning villas on the coast of the South of France in the first half of the 20th century. The story tells of the life of Barry, his partner in business and life, the Englishman Colonel Eric Sawyer, and their wonderful villas and gardens. Above all, it describes the intimate lives of some of those fascinating people American, British and French, who had the privilege of commissioning and living in these villas. In 1940,  as virtually all the expatriates in the south fled France, Barry and Eric stayed on and their charmed lives changed dramatically. Visit the Villas page for video and audio clips.

Her first book, ‘Escape to Provence’, is published by Chapter & Verse Books and is also available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book. It is the true story of two remarkable women who, with style and energy, in the tremulous peace between two world wars, carved out new lives for themselves in a village in the South of France. An American from Philadelphia, Elisabeth Parrish Starr a heroine of the Great War, and an Englishwoman, the author Winifred (Peggy) Fortescue, whose memoir Perfume from Provence became a best-seller of the 1930s and ’40s, both escaped to Provence for quite different reasons. Elisabeth as the result of a personal tragedy involving the nephew of President Theodore Roosevelt, and Peggy because she and her husband felt that in Provence ‘one could be poor with dignity’. It was first published in 2008 and re-printed in 2009.

Maureen is now researching her new biography – ‘The Russians of the Riviera’. The story will follow the progress of the Russian court, from around the mid-19th century, as many of its members became the ‘other expatriates’, as opposed to the British colony who had established themselves in Cannes. The Russians would generally prefer the stretch of the Riviera from Nice to Menton. Along with the immensely rich and self-indulgent members of the court, who arrived by boat or the royal train from St Petersburgh, so also came their artists and writers. When the revolution put an end to the Romanov dynasty, their aristocrats and landowners, many returned to the south of France as hotel concierges, minor clerks, butlers or taxi drivers. They too have their stories. Now, in the present day, the Russians have returned, and in yet another form.


‘Escape to Provence’ is currently only obtainable in Kindle edition from Amazon at just £4.80 U.K. This version does not contain the photographs in the printed edition but they are all available in a gallery at the bottom of the ‘Escape to Provence’ page. Click here.

‘Riviera Dreaming’ is available from Amazon priced at £15.29 U.K. for the Kindle edition and £19.71 U.K. for the hardback edition. Also available in good bookshops. Click here.

‘Courage’ is only available as a Kindle edition from Amazon priced at £2.18 U.K. or free from Kindle Unlimited. Click here.

Read Sample Chapters from Maureen’s Books

At the bottom of each book page you will find a link to purchase the book from Amazon UK. This also provides the opportunity to sample each book by reading the introduction and first chapter! At present Escape to Provence’ and ‘Courage’ are only available as Kindle editions. ‘Riviera Dreaming’ is available in hardback and Kindle editions.

Articles, Features & Updates

Maureen has also researched and published articles, which can be found on this website, on the history of the Anglo American Sunny Bank Hospital in Cannes, Resistance Heroine Hélène Vagliano, Sir John Fortescue, Spitfire Pilot Richard Hillary, Eric Dunstan (‘the man with the golden voice’), Olga Khokhlova and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, (‘Russians of the Riviera’).

  • May 2020 – New
     ‘Before Chanel – The Story of La Pausa’. Click here.
  • June 2020 – New
    The Affair of the Hotel Martinez, Cannes. Click here.
  • July 2020 – New
    A short film narrated by Eric Dunstan, (‘the man with the golden voice’). Click here.
  • August 2020 – New
    Instagram, you can now visit my Instagram account by using the link in the bottom right corner of each web page.
  • September 2020 – New
    La Turbie. Click here.
  • December 2020 – New
    Maureens’s biography is now available to read in full. Click here.
  • January 2021 – New
    The Franco – American Riviera, The Birth of America. Click here.
  • February 2021 – New
    Lord Derby and the Lost Villa – ‘Villa Sansovino’, Chemin de Caldana, Cannes. Click here.
  • February 2021 – New
    The Russian Riviera , Olga Stepahovna Khokhlova and Pablo Oicasso. Click here.
  • February 2021 – New
    The Riviera of the 1920’s. Click here.
  • February 2021 – New
    A video, made by Maureen in 2008, telling how ‘Escape to Provence’ came about has been added to the foot of the Gallery page. Click here.
  • March 2021 – New
    The Hungarian Riviera – Baroness Orczy. Click here.
  • May 2021 – New
    W.O. Bentley and The Bentley Boys. Click here.
  • June 2021 – New
    The Scottish Riviera – The Kindness of Others. Click here.
  • August 2021 – New
  • From Occupation to Liberation – Claude Marcus’s Story. Click here.
  • August 2021 – New
  • Careless Consuls and Unbearable Boats. Click here.
  • April 2022 – New
    Americans of the Riviera – James Gordon Bennett. Click here.
  • February 2023 – New
  • The Russian Riviera – Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. Click here.
  • February 2023 – New
  • Tales of the Old Riviera – Somerset Maugham. Click here.
Sunny Bank Hospital in Cannes, Resistance Heroine Hélène Vagliano, Sir John Fortescue, Spitfire Pilot Richard Hillary

For more information about Maureen and her career as a writer click here to read an interview with ‘Riviera Buzz’ Magazine.
You can also enjoy a short video about her work on the Gallery page.