For the Love of Mr Selfridge

On January 11, 2016

‘With the wedding so close, Rose had begun experiencing niggling doubts … Marriage, she decided, was momentous, requiring an almighty leap of faith.’



Harry Selfridge has been very much on my mind of late. For the last eighteen months or so I have been writing about him and recently published MARRIAGE, MISUNDERSTANDING and MR SELFRIDGE, the second in a series of novels inspired by his love for Rose Buckingham. In the process of writing about Harry, I have grown immensely fond of him.

For me, Harry is an inspiration, his outlook and attitudes as relevant today as they were in late nineteenth century Chicago, the setting for my books. Harry started out with nothing and knew first-hand what it was to struggle, yet nothing deterred him. He was a grafter, a man determined to succeed against overwhelming odds.


The Harry I have come to know was as charismatic as he was courageous, willing to take risks in pursuit of his dreams. A showman, he was quirky, a maverick. On the flipside, he may at times have been brash and pushy and – heaven forbid – lacking in pedigree in the eyes of his critics, but I have no doubt he was a man of honour, in possession of that all too rare quality, integrity.

Little wonder that Rose Buckingham fell for him.


Rose was thirty by the time she and Harry got married. She was wealthy, a society beauty, making a name for herself in Chicago as an innovative property developer. In short, she was quite a catch. I’m guessing she could have found a husband long before Harry came into her life. I like to think that Rose was choosey, however, the kind of woman for whom nothing less than a perfect love match would do.

Harry proved to be The One. The only one, just as she was the only woman for him.

I am in no doubt as to the depth of their love, although I feel sure they had their share of ups and downs. Harry, acutely aware that elements of Chicago society felt he was not good enough for Rose, went out of his way to show how much she meant to him. He was a romantic, given to grand gestures, and, on their wedding day, at Chicago’s Central Music Hall, on November 11, 1890, he pushed out the boat in grand style, prompting ridicule for the extravagance of the arrangements. Perhaps his way of doing things – the profusion of flowers, the choir, the theatrical setting – was a shade excessive but, as with all that Harry did, it was heartfelt too.

The joy of writing about Harry and Rose is conjuring up their world. What brought them together? What kind of people were they? What made them tick? Why did their relationship stand the test of time?

Inevitably, in writing fiction I have used my imagination to address these questions. At the same time, to the best of my ability, I have sought to remain true to Harry and Rose.

In my telling of their story, they both have their flaws. They make mistakes that put their future happiness in jeopardy. And, like the rest of us, they learn that relationships are complicated and messy – that it takes more than love alone to make things work out.



The first two Harry Selfridge books, WHEN HARRY MET ROSE: MR SELFRIDGE AND THE SEARCH FOR LOVE and MARRIAGE, MISUNDERSTANDING and MR SELFRIDGE are available now on Amazon in the UK here and in the US here.

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