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Posts Tagged ‘Queen Victoria’

A new video of the background to: “Most Beautiful Princess “- A novel based on the life of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia

 

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About.

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Royalties In The First World War.

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Alongside being a prolific letter-writer, Queen Victoria was an avid reader who greatly enjoyed poetry and contemporary novels, particularly those about the lives of ordinary people. Among her favourite authors were Dinah Craik, whose novel John Halifax. Gentleman was probably her most successful work (and, incidentally, made into a BBC television series in the 1970s).
 
Of Mrs. Craik, Queen Victoria wrote to her eldest daughter, the German Crown Princess (and later Empress): 
“Have you ever read two pretty, simple but very pleasantly written novels called ‘A Noble Life’ by the authoress of ‘J. Halifax’ and ‘Janet’s Home’? They have both been read to me of an evening and I like them so much. Not sensation novels but pretty, simple stories, full of truth and good feeling.”
 
Mrs. Oliphant was another of the Queen favourite authors and, with her love of all things Scottish, she greatly enjoyed ‘Merkland’ which she described as ‘An old – but excellent Scotch’ novel.’ In 1868 the Queen met Mrs Oliphant whom she considered, “very pleasant and clever looking.’ 
 
Naturally, her friendship with the Prime Minister, Disraeli, led her to greatly appreciate his novels, too, and when her own ‘Leaves from a Highland Journal’ was published, she was greatly flattered when he spoke to her as a fellow-writer, “We authors, ma’am…” 
 
Marie Correlli – a writer of popular novels – also appealed to the Queen, as did Wilkie Collins, Dickens and George Eliot, regardless of the scandal of the latter’s private life. Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s biography of Byron, however, Queen Victoria considered shocking since it included information about the poet’s incestuous relationship with his sister.
 
“That Byron scandal is too shameful; I have not read it as I have a particular horror of scandal and gossip, and it is quite untrue. Mrs. Stowe has behaved shamefully.”     

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One of the many achievements of Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, was the creation of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Eager to find healthy sea air for their children air and, tired of being gaped at at the rundown Brighton Pavilion, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert fell in love with island and, with the architect, Thomas Cubitt, the Prince began the design of the house in 1854. By the time of the completion of the main wing in 1851, the place had become a real family home and lovely seaside retreat.
 
Unlike many princes of his era, Prince Albert took a great personal interest in his children’s upbringing and education, and it was here, at Osborne, that he provided each of them with a small garden in which they were to plant flowers and vegetables, which he would then purchase from them at market prices. Today, the gardens, labelled with the names of the nine children and complete with their tiny wheelbarrows and garden tools, are still intact in front of the Swiss Cottage – a specially imported wooden house, fitted with miniature kitchen implements and equipment, in which the royal children learned to cook. 
Osborne House is ne of the most beautiful stately homes I have ever visited, not only for its wonderful views across the Solent and its interesting and unusual artefacts (including Queen Victoria’s bathing machine, but primarily for its wonderful atmosphere of joyful children. It is true that this was a place where several sad events took place (the Queen’s second daughter, Princess Alice – mother of the last Tsarina of Russia – was married in the dining room of the house only a few months after her father’s death and the occasion was so sad the the bride and even the archbishop were in tears! And Queen Victoria herself died here); it is equally true that one of the Queen’s children, King Edward VII, so disliked his memories of the place that on his accession he gave it to the nation, but the sense of the place is, to me, almost mystical in it joyfulness. From the beautiful sea views to the scents of the walled garden, and from the art-lined corridors to the nurseries, this is house which really captures the spirit of Prince Albert, the aesthete and family man.
 
Dear Osborne,” wrote Queen Victoria “– the deep blue sea, myriads of brilliant flowers – the perfume of orange-blossom, magnolias, honeysuckles – roses etc. of all descriptions on the terrace, the quiet and retirement, all make it a perfect paradise.” 
 

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