Queen Victoria: A Life of Contradictions

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9780007504572: Queen Victoria: A Life of Contradictions

'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.

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Product Description:

Title: Queen Victoria <>Binding: Hardcover <>Author: Matthew Dennison <>Publisher: HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHERS

Review:

‘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

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