What does a Shooters Hill history nut, an American author and Welling Library have in common? They have joined forces to reveal the secret lives of a royal couple whose assassination sparked the First World War almost 100 years ago. HELOISE WOOD finds out more.

SUE Woolmans, of Kenilworth Gardens, "fell in love" with the story of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie Chotek, who created a scandal by marrying in 1900.

After around 15 years of research, the 50-year-old collaborated with friend Greg King, an American author, and they wrote the 400 pages across continents via email.

Welling Library also played a role and the sound engineer felt so grateful for the support she had received from staff there, she even thanked them personally in the acknowledgements.

The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World was published in the UK and America in September but Ms Woolmans told News Shopper she gets most excited when discovering a copy in Bexley bookshops. 

News Shopper: The marriage of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek caused much controversy

The sound engineer said: "I’ve always had an interest in history and I had a real affection for this particular couple, I fell in love with them.

"They were the most interesting people and captured my imagination. I have been wanting to explore their lives for years.

"My friend Greg King also wanted to write about them but did not know about them. We wrote it across continents because he lives in America.

"It took around two years although the research took around 15 years on and off."

"It is a romantic love story. She was a lady in waiting and he was going to inherit the throne to the Austro-Hungarian thrown.

"She was not of the right rank and so even after they married, she couldn’t be seen at the theatre with him or go out to dinner together. They put up with all of this to be together.

She had to be a 'morgantic wife' rather than an archduchesss and her children couldn't get archducal status.

"And then of course they were killed.

"The world was changed irrevocably when those few shots rang out in Sarajevo in June 1914."

News Shopper: Sophie Chotek was an aristocrat but also a lady-in-waiting

Mrs Woolmans is particularly grateful to Welling Library in Bellegrove Road.

She said: "Although I live in Greenwich, I spend most of my time in Bexley and the library was so helpful.

"Every week I would send my husband to fill in white slips to get out-of-print books or incredibly old ones. I must have requested around 20 or 30 titles and there was only one they couldn’t find."

Welling Library librarian Elena Clark was one of the staff mentioned in the acknowledgements.

She said: "Being acknowledged in The Assassination of the Archduke was a really big compliment.

"We all work so hard in the library service and this bit of valuable recognition is priceless. I was speechless."

For more information, visit assassinationofthearchduke.com