The true story for fans of the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria, this page-turning biography reveals the real woman behind the myth: a bold, glamorous, unbreakable queen—a Victoria for our times. Drawing on previously unpublished papers, this stunning portrait is a story of love and heartbreak, of devotion and grief, of strength and resilience.
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“Victoria the Queen, Julia Baird’s exquisitely wrought and meticulously researched biography, brushes the dusty myth off this extraordinary monarch.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
When Victoria was born, in 1819, the world was a very different place. Revolution would threaten many of Europe’s monarchies in the coming decades. In Britain, a generation of royals had indulged their whims at the public’s expense, and republican sentiment was growing. The Industrial Revolution was transforming the landscape, and the British Empire was commanding ever larger tracts of the globe. In a world where women were often powerless, during a century roiling with change, Victoria went on to rule the most powerful country on earth with a decisive hand.
Fifth in line to the throne at the time of her birth, Victoria was an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary role. As a girl, she defied her mother’s meddling and an adviser’s bullying, forging an iron will of her own. As a teenage queen, she eagerly grasped the crown and relished the freedom it brought her. At twenty, she fell passionately in love with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, eventually giving birth to nine children. She loved sex and delighted in power. She was outspoken with her ministers, overstepping conventional boundaries and asserting her opinions. After the death of her adored Albert, she began a controversial, intimate relationship with her servant John Brown. She survived eight assassination attempts over the course of her lifetime. And as science, technology, and democracy were dramatically reshaping the world, Victoria was a symbol of steadfastness and security—queen of a quarter of the world’s population at the height of the British Empire’s reach.
Drawing on sources that include fresh revelations about Victoria’s relationship with John Brown, Julia Baird brings vividly to life the fascinating story of a woman who struggled with so many of the things we do today: balancing work and family, raising children, navigating marital strife, losing parents, combating anxiety and self-doubt, finding an identity, searching for meaning.
Journalist Baird dedicates this florid, heaving biography of Queen Victoria to undoing the myths that continue to surround the woman whose era bears her name specifically, that she was eclipsed by her husband, Albert, in matters of state; was incapable of loving her children; and was an absentee monarch after Albert's untimely death. Instead, Victoria emerges in Baird's fluid prose as a figure to be reckoned with in her own right, a passionate wife as well as an unbending ruler who defied no fewer than seven assassination attempts. Victoria's rich personal life makes for interesting reading, but Baird's attempts to trace the beginnings of the suffrage and anti-slavery movements to the values embodied in Victoria's reign are unconvincing, grafted as they are onto a mass of details about white dresses "edged with swansdown" and the Prince of Wales's sordid love life. Baird's empathy for her subject is apparent throughout, however, and when Victoria finally exits the stage at age 81, the narrative seems to exhale, drained. Royal biographies tend to be breathless and straitened at the same time, and Baird's contribution is no exception, but she imbues the chilly figure of Victoria with welcome humor and warmth.
Victoria: the Queen An Intimate Biography of the Woman who Ruled an Empire
This is an excellent and interesting biography of Queen Victoria. Despite its length, it maintained my interest from beginning to end. It is very relevant to the modern world, since the origins of many political and social events and issues present today are described as if affected her life and reign. Queen Victoria’s life as mother, wife, woman, and ruler reflects and embodies the evolving role of British and European/American women over recent history.
Longest book, I have read in MANY years !!
I really enjoyed this book, took some time to read, but very interesting !!! The author really did much research, did a fantastic job of describing the life and timeline of Victoria. My great grand parents, grew up in England in her lifetime(1845-to 1920’s) So I wanted to know more about the things that happened while she was Queen.