Queer Places:
Villa Siracusa, Via Bernardino Rota, 44, 80067 Sorrento NA
Campo Cestio Rome, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy

Elena Konstantinovna Gorchakova Soldatenkova (January 10, 1873 - January 23, 1948) was the daughter of Prince Konstantin Alelxandrovich Gorchakov (1841-1926) and Maria Mikhaylovna Sturdza (1849-1905). A fictional character in Extraordinary Women by Compton Mackenzie. She was the great-grand-daughter of Prince Alexandr Gorchakov, the famous Chancellor who handled Russia’s foreign policy in the middle of the nineteenth century. Lady-in-Waiting at the Russian Imperial Court. She married Vasiliy Vasilievich Soldatenkov (1879-1944), a rich commoner and racing driver. Her husband V. V. Soldatenkov, was at the Russian Embassy in Rome, and they divorced in 1913. Elena's brother, Prince Gorchakov (1875-1916) married Daria Mikhailovna Bibikova (1883-1962), a lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

Soon after the birth in 1901 of a daughter, also christened Helène, but known to all as ‘Baby’, her marriage broke up and henceforth she lived at Sorrento in great style attended by a large indoor and outdoor staff; the Tsar often spent part of the summer there. The Principessa was uncompromisingly lesbian. ‘The mere contour of a man affected her mind as unpleasantly as the contour of a mountain affected the old Roman mind.’ As often as not her girl-friends became part of the household under the cover of governesses for ‘Baby’, and no doubt they were impressed by her bedroom, which was paved with hand-made tiles topped with rose petals.

Most lesbian travellers would call on the Principessa Helène Soldatenkov. Mimì Franchetti succeeded in seducing the previously heterosexual Baby Soldatenkov, a matter which gave her mother, too, great satisfaction. (Compton Mackenzie wrote about them all in Extraordinary Women.)

Maria Konstantinovna, Princess Gorchakova, by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky, 1903. Maria Konstantinovna (1871-1924) (she was widowed in 1901 from her first husband Prince Alexis Kudashev. She remarried a few years later Alexander N. Brianchaninov)

Prince Alexander Konstantinovich Gorchakov, by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky, 1904. His son Prince Mikhaïl Aleksandrovich Gortchakov and his wife Countess Olga Orlov Davydov moved after World War II to Argentina, they lived in San Isidro near Buenos Aires until both passed away.

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