Publication Date: 2000
Challenges: Non-Fiction Five #6, A-Z Reading #37 (Q Title)
This biography of Queen Victoria has been on my TBR list for a while now. I’m very glad I finally read it. The subtitle “A Personal History” is accurate. This book doesn’t dig deep into the political side of her lengthy reign and legacy. This is very much about the woman herself and her relationships with her family, staff and government officials.
A lot of what is covered in the book I already knew, such as her devotion to her husband and her heartbreak after his death. I also knew of her legacy of marrying her children into most of the reigning houses of Europe at the end of the 19th century. I didn’t know that she and Prince Albert had some pretty severe quarrels – often continued in letters to each other. One of his letters speaks of his wanting to just get away and be by himself, but she continues to follow him and pursue the argument. I was surprised that she didn’t particularly like being pregnant or young children. Her relationships with her children were difficult ones, particularly her eldest son and heir.
Her relationships with her Prime Ministers and government officials are interesting – she often disliked a new Prime Minister only to despair at his leaving office a few years later. She was a woman of contradictions – often selfish and difficult, she also loved and cared deeply about others. She loved to dance and laugh and there is one picture in the book of her smiling (which I had never seen before).
The first part of the book is, for the most part, a chronological telling of her life up to the death of Prince Albert. The second part is less chronological and the chapters are more topics considered in regard to the remainder of her reign (such as Sons, Daughters, Holidays Abroad, etc.) Hibbert touches on her relationship with John Brown, and concludes that it’s unlikely that it was a romantic one.
I enjoyed this biography, but would like to read more about her someday. There is so much to her life and reign that it’s difficult to cover in one book.