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Queen Victoria: a life of contradictions

Queen Victoria: a life of contradictions

Dennison, Matthew, author

Queen Victoria is Britain's queen of contradictions. In her combination of deep sentimentality and bombast; cultural imperialism and imperial compassion; fear of intellectualism and excitement at technology; romanticism and prudishness, she became a spirit of the age to which she gave her name. This is a compelling assessment of Victoria's mercurial character and indelible impact

Hardback, Book. English.
Published London: William Collins, 2013
Rated
from 3 users

Available at Cheltenham and Gloucester.

  • Cheltenham – One available

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    993441273X Biography BVICTORIAQUE Adult Non-Fiction Available
  • Gloucester – One available

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    9934412551 Biography BVITORIAQUE Adult Non-Fiction Available

Details

Statement of responsibility: Matthew Dennison
ISBN: 0007504578, 9780007504572
Physical Description: xiv, 189 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (black and white, and colour) ; 23 cm
Subject: Biography.; Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901.; Great Britain History Victoria, 1837-1901.; Queens Great Britain Biography.; Great Britain Kings and rulers Biography.

Author note

Matthew Dennison is the author of three critically acclaimed works of non-fiction: 'The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter', written with the full assistance of the Royal Archives and published in nine UK editions to date, 'Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia', and 'The Twelve Caesars'. Described in The Independent as 'one of those rare marvels, a historical biographer whose work has reached the bestseller lists', he is also a regular contributor toCountry Life, Telegraph Magazine, The Times and Majesty.

Description

'Queen Victoria had a very complicated and psychologically fascinating personality and only a very talented biographer could get to the key of her character. Fortunately in Matthew Dennison's pithy, well-researched, beautifully written and very accessible book, she has found one' Andrew Roberts

In this brilliant, concise new biography Queen Victoria is shown as Britain's queen of contradictions. In her combination of regal vehemence and wifely submission; deep sentimentality and bombast; cultural imperialism and imperial compassion; fear of intellectualism and excitement at technology; romantic longing and prudishness, she became a spirit of the age to which she gave her name.

Victoria embraced photography, railway travel and modern art; she resisted compulsory education for the working classes and recommended for a leading women's rights campaigner 'a good whipping'. She detested smoking and believed whole-heartedly in the health-giving properties of fresh air, strong draughts and cold. She may or may not have been amused.

Melbourne and Disraeli wooed her; Peel and Palmerston infuriated her; fatally Gladstone failed to 'pet' her. She loved dancing and the opera and, in her mourning of Prince Albert, sought consolation in the poetry of Tennyson and a long exchange of letters between sovereign and Laureate. Meanwhile she reinvented the monarchy and wrestled with personal reinvention. She lived in the shadow of her mother and then under the tutelage of her husband: during her protracted widowhood she belatedly embraced self-reliance.

Fresh, witty and accessible, this brilliant new book from Matthew Dennison gives a compelling assessment of Victoria's mercurial character and her impact, written with the irony, flourish and insight that this Queen and her rule so richly deserve.

Reviews

'Sometimes caustic about her stubbornness and passions, often admiring of her frankness and honesty, Dennison's Queen Victoria sweeps us through the monarch's long and colourful life at a collected canter. He draws on imagery of her reign, including portraits of her with John Brown, to startlingly good effect, making us see with new eyes the lone young queen, later the Widow of Windsor and, in a final role, Grandmama of Europe' Flora Fraser

'Dennison tells Victoria's story with the sort of quick wit and high polish associated with biographical writing of an earlier age . He does an excellent job of catching the silliness and the stalwartness of Queen Victoria . A biographical portrait that aims to catch the quirky essence of its subject, rather than force-feed the reader a long list of familiar facts' Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

'Matthew Dennison has pulled off a tremendous coup in writing a short and concise book, encapsulating Victoria's life in 152 small pages. Short books can sometimes be superficial overviews, but this one has the confidence of considerable research, well digested and well delivered. For anyone approaching Queen Victoria for the first time, this is perfect' Hugo Vickers, Times

'This illuminating book gives us Victoria in deliberately bite-sized chunks . Dennison's dry wit and concise analysis bring new life to a monarch we all thought we knew' Daily Express

'In elegant, eloquent prose, Matthew Dennison has written a close-focus and perceptive account of a complex woman' Country Life

'Intelligent, pithy and well-researched, this book offers an insight into the woman who became the figurehead of Britain at her best. A refreshing history' The Field

'One is left breathless with admiration for the great Queen' The Tablet

'[Matthew Dennison] has done an adroit and incisive job of tying together Victoria's many loose ends' Spectator