British scholar Christopher Hibbert adds another engrossing volume to his long list of informative and entertaining histories and biographies. Aptly subtitled "A Personal History," this portrait of England's longest reigning monarch focuses on Victoria's character, as well as her relationships with her husband, children, and the politicians who directed her government. Unlike George III, which found its subject to be a more intelligent and effective ruler than he had been judged traditionally, this biography does not offer a radically new assessment of Victoria (1819-1901). Instead, Hibbert adds color to the stock image of a stout, grieving widow who was dressed perennially in black as she presided over England's imperial prime. His Queen Victoria is imperious and dignified, to be sure; she is also fun loving, highly emotional, and passionately in love with her consort, Prince Albert. Victoria was mortified to discover she had become pregnant within weeks of her marriage, fearing that it would spoil her intimacy with her husband; and, although she was fond of their many children, Hibbert candidly depicts her as a difficult and overbearing mother. In the graceful, engaging prose that is his trademark, Hibbert skillfully traces England's political evolution into a truly constitutional monarchy through Victoria's dealings with her prime ministers. He also judiciously evaluates her personal ties, particularly the thorny one with son and heir Bertie (later Edward VII), and the controversial one with Scottish servant John Brown. (Hibbert concludes that a sexual link between the two was "most improbable.") His appealing book reaffirms the pleasures of old-fashioned narrative biography. --Wendy Smith
First time in paperback: An intimate biography of a larger-than-life persona-and a radical reassessment of a monarch we thought we knew.
In this surprising new life of Victoria, Christopher Hibbert, master of the telling anecdote and peerless biographer of England's great leaders, paints a fresh and intimate portrait of the woman who shaped a century. His Victoria is not only the formidable, demanding, capricious queen of popular imagination-she is also often shy, diffident, and vulnerable, prone to giggling fits and crying jags. Often censorious when confronted with her mother's moral lapses, she herself could be passionately sensual, emotional, and deeply sentimental. Ascending to the throne at age eighteen, Victoria ruled for sixty-four years-an astounding length for any world leader. During her reign, she dealt with conflicts ranging from royal quarrels to war in Crimea and rebellion in India. She saw monarchs fall, empires crumble, new continents explored, and England grow into a dominant global and industrial power. This personal history is a compelling look at the complex woman whom, until now, we only thought we knew.
If You Enjoy "Queen Victoria: A Personal History (Paperback)", May We Also Recommend: