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Title Page || 1: Antecedent

Queen Victoria, child of Edward, Duke of Kent, and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg, was born on May 24, 1819 and died on January 22,1901, almost eight-one years and eight months later. This only child never knew her father; he died when she was less than a year old. Her Germanic mother raised her in a strict fashion, determined that she be a proper English princess. In particular, her mother kept her daughter, Alexandrina Victoria or Drina, as she was called, away from her uncles, King George IV and King William IV, as much as possible. Neither man was a paragon of virtue. But the future queen was. As she said "I'll be good," a promise she kept during the over sixty-three years of her reign. Unlike her kingly uncles, she was never involved in personal scandal. Even the rumors that she was sexually involved with John Brown late in her life appear spurious. Queen Victoria, who assumed the throne in 1837, was an icon for her age.
Powerful men played a prominent role in her life although she was a strong personailty. Upon becoming Queen, she was strongly influenced by William Lamb, Vicount Melbourne, the Whig Prime Minister. When she married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, he assumed the dominant role in her life until his untimely death in 1861. They were very much in love, having nine children. Victoria once remarked that it was not that she liked children so much as she liked the process of making them! Albert influenced Victoria to be more conservative and she paid close attention to his views. She was devastated by his death from typhoid fever and went into depression and near seclusion. She still had a role to play in British government albeit a lesser one than when she first became queen. She never liked William Gladstone, the Whig prime minister, but was enchanted with Benjamin Disraeli, the Tory Prime Minister, who had publically admired Albert and knew how to flatter the queen. Other prime ministers never played as strong a role in her life. In her personal life, she came to rely upon a Scottish servant, John Brown, until his death in 1883. In spite of his lowly station, Brown was a boon companion and protector.
Lytton Strachey(1880-1932) also played an important role in Queen Victoria's life although years after her death. There have been numerous biographies of the queen but Strachey's Queen Victoria, published in 1921, holds its own. Rather than get bogged down in the enormous details which accumulated because of her very long life and reign, Strachey decided to try to capture the essence of her life, to paint in broad strokes. It was a technique he had successfully used in Eminent Victorians (1918) and would use in subsequent works. A realistic portrait of the queen emerges, for he often used Victoria's own words and thoughts, relying especially upon the multi-volumed The Greville Memoirs.

lytton.jpg (1700 bytes)

Strachey, pictured above, was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, the brilliant coterie which included John Maynard Keynes and Virginia Woolf. He was a critic for the Spectator. His published works includes Landmarks in French Literature (1912), Eminent Victorians (1918), Queen Victoria (1921), Books and Characters, French and English (1922), Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History (1928), Portraits in Miniature and Other Essays (1931), and, posthumously, Characters and Commentaries (1933).
This HTA Press edition of the work includes photographs and bibliography not avaliable in the 1921 edition.

Don Mabry
Starkville, MS