A. N. Wilson gives a sweeping, definitive biography of one of the most
recognizable yet enigmatic monarchs of all time.
The longest reigning British monarch and female
sovereign in history, Queen Victoria was a figure of profound paradox who has
mystified historians for over a century. Now in this magisterial biography, A.
N. Wilson rebukes the conventional wisdom about her life—that she was merely a
“funny little woman in a bonnet” who did next to nothing—to show she was in
fact intensely involved in state affairs despite a public façade of inaction.
More than just the stock image of a stuffy, unsmiling widow in mourning,
Wilson’s complete immersion in Victoria’s countless letters and journals
reveals a carefully nuanced portrait of a monarch possessed by family immigrant
insecurities, a reluctant public figure who learned to exploit public display,
a mother who hated pregnancy, and above all, a political luminary who created
and controlled the story of her life, true or otherwise.
Victoria brings to life its subject in all her many
moods and phases: her so-called miserable childhood, her early years of
political inexperience as a pawn to advisers and statesmen, her passionate marriage
to Prince Albert and the incessant public criticism, her famed mourning period
after Albert’s early death, and finally, the captivating last decades of her
rule as Empress of India. After nearly two decades as an eccentric, reclusive
mourner, she emerged, self-confident and robust, as an out-and-out imperialist
who harnessed royalty with British foreign policy and as the figurehead of
military and economic world domination.
Wilson tells a story of victory against painful odds and
gives the portrait of a woman battling with demons and overcoming them, largely
alone. Despite everything, she came to embody the British people’s experience
of their own lives. For those hundreds of thousands of people throughout the
world, Queen Victoria transcended autocracy; she became the model for all
future constitutional monarchies, a beloved leader who reflected back to the
people their own experiences of passing time, their own values, and their own
sense of the world. With dramatic sweep and novelistic style, Victoria: A
Life is an accomplished work from one of our greatest biographers. Download and start listening now!