'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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