Martha Hall Kelly

Bestselling Historical Novelist
NYT Bestseller
Travels from: New York NY

“Her compassion, expertise, and willingness to share her experiences made this a very special event… We can’t wait to see her again!” – UConn OLLI, 2021

Martha Hall Kelly is a native New Englander, and author of Lilac Girls, which was an instant New York Times bestseller the week it was published in April 2016. This beautiful debut novel is based on the true story of 72 Polish women who were imprisoned and experimented on at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, and how Caroline Ferriday, an American philanthropist and former actress brought them to the US for rehabilitation and the trip of a lifetime. Martha researched the story for over ten years; Publishers Weekly lauded it as “a page-turner, demonstrating the tests and triumphs civilians faced during war, complemented by Kelly’s vivid description of history and excellent characters.”

Martha worked as an advertising copywriter for many years, and raised three wonderful children while researching and writing Lilac Girls. She has been hard at work on two prequels to Lilac Girls. The first, The Last Roses, takes place in WWI and tells the story of Caroline’s mother Eliza’s fight to help Russian refugees displaced by the revolution there. The second prequel, Sunflower Sisters, released in March 2021, takes place during The Civil War and tells the story of Caroline’s ancestors, the incredibly philanthropic Woolsey women, staunch abolitionists who tended to wounded soldiers on the Gettysburg battlefield.

Martha holds a degree in Journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School.  She lives in Connecticut and Martha’s Vineyard.

Lilac Girls has been published in 20 languages, and the Bellamy-Ferriday house, former residence of the novel’s Caroline Farriday, is breaking records as Lilac Girls readers flock to the destination by the busload!

Prepare an Invitation for:

Sunflower Sisters

Ballantine Books |

Georgeanna “Georgey” Woolsey isn’t meant for the world of lavish parties and the demure attitudes of women of her stature. So when war ignites the nation, Georgey follows her passion for nursing during a time when doctors considered women on the battlefront a bother. In proving them wrong, she and her sister Eliza venture from New York to Washington, D.C., to Gettysburg and witness the unparalleled horrors of slavery as they become involved in the war effort.

In the South, Jemma is enslaved on the Peeler Plantation in Maryland, where she lives with her mother and father. Her sister, Patience, is enslaved on the plantation next door, and both live in fear of LeBaron, an abusive overseer who tracks their every move. When Jemma is sold by the cruel plantation mistress Anne-May at the same time the Union army comes through, she sees a chance to finally escape—but only by abandoning the family she loves.

Anne-May is left behind to run Peeler Plantation when her husband joins the Union army and her cherished brother enlists with the Confederates. In charge of the household, she uses the opportunity to follow her own ambitions and is drawn into a secret Southern network of spies, finally exposing herself to the fate she deserves.

Inspired by true accounts, Sunflower Sisters provides a vivid, detailed look at the Civil War experience, from the barbaric and inhumane plantations, to a war-torn New York City, to the horrors of the battlefield. It’s a sweeping story of women caught in a country on the brink of collapse, in a society grappling with nationalism and unthinkable racial cruelty, a story still so relevant today.

Lost Roses

Ballantine Books |

It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet.

But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend.

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history.

Lilac Girls

Thorndike Press |

“NEW YORK TIMES “BESTSELLER For readers of “The Nightingale” and “Sarah’s Key, ” inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939 and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbruck, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

In “Lilac Girls, ” Martha Hall Kelly has crafted a remarkable novel of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. It is a story that will keep readers bonded with the characters, searching for the truth, until the final pages.

How Lilac Girls Was Born and Brought a Long Buried Story to Light

The Secrets of Ravensbruck: Hitler's Only All-Female Concentration Camp

Hidden Stories of Amazing Women Who Changed History

The True WWII Story Behind Lilac Girls and the Ravensbruck Rabbits

Caroline Farriday and her Exquisite Garden

How Martha Wrote Lilac Girls and Three Steps to How You Can Unleash Your Bestselling Novel

Lessons for Today from Lilac Girls and WWII

SUNFLOWER SISTERS: A Conversation with Martha Hall Kelly

Introducing LILAC GIRLS: A Novel by Martha Hall Kelly


Meet the Author: Martha Hall Kelly

Resources for Book Clubs

Martha Hall Kelly’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

NYT Bestselling Author
IndieNext List
One Million Copies Sold

Media Kit

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