Ferguson, Sarah 1959- (Sarah Margaret Ferguson, Sarah, Duchess of York)

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Ferguson, Sarah 1959- (Sarah Margaret Ferguson, Sarah, Duchess of York)


Born October 15, 1959, in London, England; daughter of Ronald Ivor Ferguson (in the military) and Susan Barrantes; married Andrew Mountbatten-Windsor (a naval officer), July 23, 1986 (divorced 1996); children: Beatrice, Eugenie. Education: Queen's Secretarial College, graduated.


Home—Sunninghill Park, England.


Worked for various public relations and publishing firms in London, England; writer, beginning 1973. Children in Crisis (humanitarian group), founder, 1993. Spokesperson for Weight Watchers, beginning 1997, and SOS Children's Villages—USA, beginning 2004; correspondent for Today show; talk-show host of Sarah, Surviving Life for British television, and Fergie! for U.S. television, 2003. Featured in television programs, including Adventures with the Duchess, p. 1997, and Larry King Live.



Budgie the Little Helicopter, illustrated by John Richardson, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1989.

Budgie at Bendick's Point, illustrated by John Richardson, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1989.

Budgie and the Blizzard, illustrated by John Richardson, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1991.

Budgie Goes to Sea, illustrated by John Richardson, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1991.

The Adventures of Budgie, illustrated by John Richardson, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1992.

The Royal Switch, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1996.

Bright Lights, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, Bantam Doubleday Dell (New York, NY), 1997.

The Haunted Spaceship, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Little Red, illustrated by Sam Williams, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.

Little Red's Christmas Story, illustrated by Sam Williams, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.

Little Red's Summer Adventure, illustrated by Sam Williams, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.


To the Place of Shells, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1975.

Skiing from the Inside: The Self-Help Guide to Mastering the Slopes, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 1989.

(With Benita Stoney) Victoria and Albert: Life at Osborne House, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1991.

(With Benita Stoney) Travels with Queen Victoria, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1993.

(With Jeff Coplon) My Story, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Weight Watchers) Dining with the Duchess: How to Make Everyday Meals a Special Occasion, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Stephanie Seymour) Beauty Secrets for Dummies, IDG Publishing, 1998.

(With Weight Watchers) Dieting with the Duchess: Secrets and Sensible Advice for a Great Body, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Weight Watchers) Win the Weight Game: Successful Strategies for Living Well, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Weight Watchers) Dishing with the Duchess: Sarah the Duchess of York and Weight Watchers International, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2000.

Dining Royally, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2000.

Reinventing Yourself with the Duchess of York: Inspiring Stories and Strategies for Changing Your Weight and Your Life, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Jeff Coplon) What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.


Ferguson's "Budgie" character was adapted as an animated television series, 1995-96, and c. 2000.


A celebrity figure as much for her work as a longtime spokesperson for the Weight Watchers chain of weigh-loss centers as for her status as the former daughter-in-law to England's Queen Elizabeth II, Sarah Ferguson also has a following among young children as the author of picture books such as Budgie the Little Helicopter, Little Red, and Little Red's Summer Adventure.

Growing up in the village of Sunninghill, England, Ferguson never dreamed that she would one day live in Buckingham Palace as a member of royalty. However, when she wed Prince Andrew in 1986, in a ceremony televised around the globe, she became the duchess of York, and her two daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, are real-life princesses. Although she did not grow up in the limelight like Prince Andrew, Ferguson assumed her role as a royal bride with gusto, emerging as one of the most colorful—and sometimes controversial—members of England's royal family.

An average student who excelled at sports, especially swimming, riding, and tennis, Ferguson was popular with her peers at school, and she was voted head girl during her senior year at Hurst Lodge secondary school. After graduating at age sixteen, she enrolled at Queen's Secretarial College in Kensington. There she studied typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, and cooking, but graduated at the bottom of her class due to her strong interest in skiing, tennis, and parties. After graduation, she trav-

eled and also worked in London at public relations firms and art galleries. As part of an upwardly mobile social set, she became good friends with Diana Spencer, who, as the wife of Prince Charles, was the Princess of Wales. As a friend of Princess Diana, Ferguson became a frequent guest at Buckingham Palace; in 1985, Diana asked her to be Prince Andrew's date during Royal Ascot Week, and the rest is history.

During her marriage (Ferguson and Prince Andrew divorced in 1996) the duchess kept busy, continuing at her job while also taking on charitable work and fulfilling her obligations as a member of the royal family. In 1988, she gave birth to Beatrice, all the while maintaining a busy schedule that included writing the children's books Budgie the Little Helicopter and Budgie at Bendick's Point. Amanda Smith, writing in Publishers Weekly, revealed that the duchess was inspired to write because of "her own experiences as a pilot"; Ferguson holds both helicopter and fixed-wing piloting licenses. As the duchess told Smith, the "Budgie books came very easily from learning to fly a helicopter."

Over the years, Ferguson has remained highly visible in the press, for her divorce, her high-profile social life, and her weight problem. Her work as spokesperson for Weight Watchers has also kept her in the news and has let to diet guides and self-help books that bear her byline. Working with writer Jeff Coplon, Ferguson has also produced several memoirs for an interested public: My Story was published in 1996 and What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way reached bookstore shelves in 2003.

In addition to raising her two daughters and writing diet and lifestyle books, Ferguson has continued to write for children. In The Royal Switch, a novel loosely based on Mark Twain's classic The Prince and the Pauper, she introduces Princess Amanda, a feisty eleven-year-old redhead. In The Royal Switch Amanda changes places with look-alike American tourist Emily Chornak, and a sequel, Bright Lights, finds the two preteens continuing their adventures in New York City.

Like the "Budgie" books, Ferguson's "Little Red" picture books are geared for very young readers. Featuring engaging watercolor and pencil illustrations by Sam Williams, Little Red introduces a red-haired, gingham-clad doll who lives in idyllic Buttercup Cottage, surrounded by toy animal friends Gino the spotted puppy dog, Roany the pink pony, and Squirrel, as well as a boy doll named Little Blue. During a picnic lunch of sherbet and cake in Bluebell Wood, Red and her friends hear a frightening sound that ultimately leads them to rescue a small, frightened bunny that is stranded on a lily pad. In Little Red's Summer Adventure the friends find their efforts to build a watercraft for a local boat-building contest threatened by a mischievous magpie, while Little Red's Christmas Adventure finds them

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hitching a ride on Santa's sleigh. Williams' "detailed watercolor illustrations add considerable, genuine charm to the effort," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer of Little Red, while School Library Journal critic Kirsten Cutler maintained that Williams' pencil drawings "do a nice job of conveying" Ferguson's simple storyline. As another Kirkus Reviews writer noted of Little Red's Summer Adventure, Ferguson's "sweetly innocent tale, filled with whimsy, is … just the thing to share with little ones."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Seward, Ingrid, Sarah: HRH the Duchess of York: A Biography, HarperCollins (London, England), 1991.

Hutchins, Chris, and Peter Thomson, Sarah's Story: The Duchess Who Defied the Royal House of Windsor, Smith Gryphon (London, England), 1992.

Starkie, Allan, Fergie: The Very Private Life of the Duchess of York, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1996.


Booklist, January 1, 1989, Barbara Jacobs, review of Dieting with the Duchess: Secrets and Sensible Advice for a Great Body, p. 813.

Entertainment Weekly, December 13, 1996, Dana Kennedy, review of The Duchess of York: My Story, p. 72.

Good Housekeeping, April, 1998, Joanna Powell, "A Royal Survivor" (interview), pp. 94-99.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1996; September 1, 2003, review of Little Red, p. 1122; June 15, 2006, review of Little Red's Summer Adventure, p. 632.

Ladies' Home Journal, April, 1999, p. 136; June, 2004, Jeanne Marie Laskas, "Sarah's New Day" (interview), p. 118; July, 2006, Merle Ginsberg, "The Duchess Diaries," p. 92.

People, January 15, 2007, Allison Adato, "Catching up with Sarah Ferguson," p. 108.

Publishers Weekly, September 29, 1989, Amanda Smith, profile of Ferguson, p. 34; July 21, 2003, review of Little Red, p. 193.

School Library Journal, April, 2003, Karen Sokol, review of What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way, p. 195; September, 2003, Nancy A. Gifford, review of Little Red, p. 177.

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Ferguson, Sarah 1959- (Sarah Margaret Ferguson, Sarah, Duchess of York)

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