The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Diana Rubino

Rubino’s books are available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble and may be in stock at some local bookstores. For more information, visit 

The rest is history
Diana Rubino releases new biographical novel series

By Angie Sykeny

 On a snowy New Year’s Day in 2008, Hudson author Diana Rubino sat on her couch pondering what to write next. She already had 15 historical romance novels to her name, but she wanted to take her love of history to the next level in her writing. A biographical novel was just the thing. She thought about historical figures that interested her and landed on U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton. 

“I’m such a history buff and have always been interested in American history,” Rubino said, “and I just decided that I wanted to start writing about the real people of that time instead of making stuff up.” 
Over the next 10 years, Rubino wrote Sharing Hamilton and three other biographical novels: Eliza Jumel Burr, Vice Queen of the United States, about the last wife of the third vice president of the U.S., Aaron Burr; Oney - My Escape from Slavery, about Oney Judge, the first U.S. first lady and Martha Washington’s slave; and one about 19th-century U.S. author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Sharing Hamilton was released first, in October. It centers on the story of Hamilton and his young mistress Maria Reynolds in what became known as “The Reynolds Affair.” Maria’s con artist husband James was fully aware of the affair and used that knowledge to extort hush money from Hamilton under the threat of ruining his reputation. 
“It was the country’s first sex scandal,” Rubino said. “Hamilton was like the Bill Clinton of his time, which I found fascinating.” 
While researching Hamilton for the book, she became even more intrigued by Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s opponent in the famous Burr-Hamilton duel. That led her to research Burr’s last wife, Eliza Jumel Burr, who became the subject of Rubino’s second biographical novel, Eliza Jumel Burr, Vice Queen of the United States, released in November. It tells Eliza’s rags-to-riches story, in which she went from begging in the streets to marrying a wealthy wine merchant, Stephen Jumel. It also follows her long-term on-and-off love affair with Burr, culminating with her marriage to him at age 56. 
For her third biographical novel, Rubino wanted to write about Martha Washington, but once again she was pulled in a different direction. 
“I wanted the narrator to be someone other than Martha, like a niece or a granddaughter,” she said. “Then, one day, it hit me like lightning: Oney Judge, Martha’s favorite slave. So it turned into a book that was not about Martha, but about Oney’s character.” 
Not only was Oney’s story captivating, but it also had a New Hampshire tie. Despite the Washingtons’ treating her well, Oney always dreamed of being free. With the help of free blacks in the Philadelphia area, she escaped and relocated to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, then to Greenland, New Hampshire, where she started her new life as a free woman. 
Rubino’s fourth biographical novel, For the Love of Hawthorne, follows Nathaniel Hawthorne and his family’s connection to the Salem witch trials. It comes out next year. 
While the books are largely based on historical fact, there are a few embellishments, such as a subplot about a serial killer in Sharing Hamilton. 
“That’s where the fiction part comes in,” Rubino said. “Every once in a while, you have to stray from the historical record and stretch the truth a bit to add some oomph to the book, but they’re still about real people and based on facts.” 
To research the subjects for her books, Rubino starts by checking out related materials at local libraries and finding information online. Then, she looks at the bibliographies of those resources to expand her search. In some cases, she reaches out to historians who can give her a more complete picture of the person or event she’s researching.   
The Oney Judge book was a bit tricky; while there is plenty of information about Oney’s time as a slave, records of her time in New Hampshire are scarce. Rubino reached out to the Greenland library, which directed her to a woman’s master’s thesis that included research done about Oney’s life after slavery. 
“It was the only resource I could find, but it worked out great,” she said. “I’m very grateful to [the author] for writing that thesis. Otherwise, I would have had to make that part up and write it as fiction.” 
Rubino has plans to write another biographical novel, which she said will most likely be about Susan B. Anthony. 

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