Helena P. Schrader is a professional diplomat currently serving in Africa. She earned a PhD in History from the University of Hamburg with a ground-breaking biography of a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler. She has since published numerous fiction and non-fiction books, several of which have won one or more literary awards. Although she has an academic background, she does not claim to be an expert on Ancient Sparta. Instead, she seeks to supplement modern scholarship by applying common sense and an understanding of human nature to the descriptions of Sparta provided by ancient and modern sources. The objective is to question some common notions and seek greater understanding of what Sparta was like.
Helena was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the daughter of a professor, and travelled abroad for the first time at the age of two, when her father went to teach at the University of Wasada in Tokyo, Japan. Later the family lived in Brazil, England and Kentucky, but home was always the coast of Maine. There, her father’s family had roots, and an old, white clapboard house perched above the boatyard in East Blue Hill.
It was the frequent travel and exposure to different cultures, peoples and heritage that inspired Helena to start writing creatively and to focus on historical fiction. She wrote her first novel in second grade, but later made a conscious decision not try to earn a living from writing. She never wanted to be forced to write what was popular, rather than what was in her heart.
Helena graduated with honors in History from the University of Michigan, added a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Commerce from Patterson School, University of Kentucky, and rounded off her education with a PhD in History cum Laude from the University of Hamburg, awarded for a ground-breaking dissertation on a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler. She worked in the private sector as a research analyst, and an investor relations manager in both the U.S. and Germany.
Helena published her first book in 1993, when her dissertation was released by a leading academic publisher in Germany; a second edition followed after excellent reviews in major newspapers. Since then she has published three additional non-fiction books, starting with Sisters in Arms about women pilots in WWII, The Blockade Breakers about the Berlin Airlift, and Codename Valkyrie, a biography of General Olbricht, based on her dissertation.
Helena has also published historical novels set in World War Two, Ancient Sparta and the Crusades. Her Jerusalem Trilogy, a biographical novel of Balian d’Ibelin in three parts, won eleven literary accolades including Best Religious/Spiritual Fiction 2017 from Feathered Quill Literary Awards, Best Biographical Fiction from Pinnacle Book Awards, and Silver in the Readers Favorites Book Awards 2016 for Christian Historical Fiction. St. Louis’ Knight won the Bronze in both the Historical Fiction and Spiritual/Religious Categories of the Feathered Quill Literary Awards 2014.
In June 2010 she was awarded the “Dr. Bernard LaFayette Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting the Institutionalization of Nonviolence Ideals in Nigeria” by the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria.
She grew up sailing on the Maine coast and served as a petty officer on the sail-training schooners Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller. She has owned four horses over the years and remains a resolute horsewoman. She owns property in what was once Lacedaemon, which she visits regularly and where she and her husband Herbert intend to retire.
Understanding ourselves by Understanding the Past