Queen Victoria: A Personal History

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9780002558266: Queen Victoria: A Personal History
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A major new biography to mark the centenary of Queen Victoria’s death, by the uncrowned king of historical biographers, Christopher Hibbert.

In 1837 Victoria came to the throne at the age of eighteen, a pretty girl not five feet tall, to preside over what was, perhaps, the most momentous period in British history. During the 64 years of her reign she saw thrones fall, empires crumble, new continents explored and mapped, while her own country became the most powerful, richest and most highly developed nation in the world. For generations the stubborn, vital woman who was seen as the epitome of this time has fascinated all who read of her.

Christopher Hibbert’s biography deals with all aspects of the Queen’s life, personality and times, her relations with her large and widespread family, her ‘wicked uncles’ and their wives and mistresses, and with the politicians, prime ministers and foreign statesmen and monarchs of her day – from her opinionated grandson, the Kaiser, to the Emperor Napoleon III with whom she fell rather in love. The book describes her married life and her failings as a mother, her love of food and gossip, her strange relationships with her Indian and Scottish servants, and her influence on the manners, morals and outlook of the age to which she gave her name.

Contraportada:

One day in Berlin the Iron Chancellor of Prussia, Count von Bismarck, emerged from an interview with Queen Victoria looking shaken and mopping his brow. 'Mein Gott!' he exclaimed, 'That' is a woman! Yet, formidable, difficult, demanding and capricious as she certainly was, she was also, as Charles Dickens found her at the ago of fifty-one, strangely shy, and like a girl in a manner, blushing readily and punctuating her remarks with a nervous giggle, revealing teeth as small as those of a mouse.

The members of her household were so frightened of her that they were once seen scurrying away across the lawn at Sandringham crying, 'The Queen! The Queen!' when she appeared unexpectedly at the garden door. Yet her Highland ghillie was allowed to treat her with the utmost familiarity and disrespect. Commanding and imperious, she was as ready to scold her Prime Minister for making an unacceptable speech as she was her eldest daughter for getting too fat or the Prince of Wales for his hairstyle. At the same time she was capable of great kindness and affection and much given to tears, as well as to helpless laughter. Censorious of those moral lapses she suspected in her mother, she was herself passionately sensual, emotional and deeply sentimental: her favourite novelist was Ouida, author of 'Two Little Wooden Shoes'. In the opinion of the diarist Charles Greville, she was, in fact, 'the most interesting mind and character in the whole world.'

For more than sixty years she presided over a country undergoing profound economic, social and political change; and in this absorbing book by our leading popular historian we see her develop from the young, inexperienced Queen in thrall to the charming, cynical and devoted Melbourne, to the intimidating matriarch furious with the detested Gladstone, that 'half crazy and in many ways ridiculous old man', and intrigued and disarmed by Disraeli's poetry, romance and chivalry.

These, as well as her other ministers, are brought vividly to life, as are all those men and women whom the Queen came to know, to love, dislike, revere or denigrate, from Sir John Conroy, her mother's friend and, so she thought, lover, to her adored husband, Prince Albert, who patiently endured her petulant tantrums, and the many foreign rulers and statesmen she met on her travels or entertained at home, not least her opinionated grandson, the Kaiser, and the charming, mysterious Napoleon III with whom she was a little in love.

Based on a wide variety of sources, including the Queen's voluminous correspondence and intimate journals preserved at Windsor – a selection from those which he has previously edited – Christopher Hibbert's biography is an endlessly entertaining and persuasive portrait of one of the most remarkable women of her time.

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Hibbert, Christopher
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