Author(s): Matthew Dennison
'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.
'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 Praise for Matthew Dennison: 'A hugely satisfying biography...Emotionally sympathetic and beautifully written, its detail meticulous ... a confidant and disarmingly impressive debut' Daily Telegraph 'An engrossing biography of Queen Victorias youngest daughter that focuses on her relationship with her wilful mother. Beautifully written' Tatler 'Unputdownable... These histories from 2,000 years ago are riveting in their insight, their black humour and their sheer readability, give or take a few highbrow verbal flourishes. Matthew Dennison fleshes out their gaudy history with boisterous scholarship.' Daily Mail 'The author's prose style - epigrammatic, swift, and spiced with humour - is like Tacitus in translation. Which is meant as a compliment. His relish for his material shines infectiously through his sentences' Thomas Hodgkinson, Spectator 'Dennison's series of impressionistic pen portraits are compelling and imaginative' Sunday Times
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 to Country Life, Telegraph Magazine, The Times and Majesty.