Born in Havana but raised from an early age in the United States, Alina García-Lapuerta shares a strong bond with her subject, Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, both through their mutual birthplace as well as through the experience of living across different cultures.
It was a passion for their common Cuban heritage which led Alina to her first glimpse of la Belle Créole in a beautifully illustrated book on Havana. Calling her a Cuban Scheherazade, the book described Mercedes holding court in a Havana palace in 1840. Other books on colonial Cuba intriguingly quoted from her Spanish-language work, Viaje a la Habana – at the time frustratingly out of print. Curious to know more about this mysterious Cuban-born star of nineteenth-century Parisian society, Alina searched for traces of this extraordinary life. What started as a simple inquiry ultimately transformed into a full-blown pursuit around the globe, rummaging in archives and libraries in the US, Cuba, Spain, France and England. The final result of this quest is the first full-length English-language biography of the Condesa de Merlin, la Belle Créole.
Alina graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in International Economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She later received a master’s degree in international relations from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and worked for a number of years in banking, both at Chase and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Now based in London, she still spends considerable time in South Florida.
She is member of Biographers International Organization, The Biographers’ Club London, and Pen/America, as well as being a trustee of two medical research charities.