…a psychological portrait of Britain’s longest reigning monarch
Acclaimed biographer AN Wilson uncovers the intriguing personal life of Queen Victoria through her journals and letters in Queen Victoria’s Letters: A Monarch Unveiled; a two-part psychological portrait of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, airing on ITV Choice on Monday 4th September after the first episode of the brand new series of Victoria.
Examining the first half of Victoria’s life, Wilson goes in search of a monarch too often misunderstood as the solid black-clad matron, and reveals a woman who was passionately romantic and who spent her early years fighting the control of domineering men.
Queen Victoria was one of the nineteenth century’s most prolific diarists, sometimes writing up to 2,500 words a day. From state affairs to family gossip, she poured out her emotions onto paper. Those close to her were afraid her more alarming opinions might escape in written form, causing havoc. In fact much of her writing was destroyed after her death and her personal journals edited by her daughter. But what survives frequently reveals a woman quite different to the one we think we know.
AN Wilson reads her personal journals and unpublished letters and discovers the factors that shaped the Queen’s personality. From the tortured relationship with her mother, to the dominant men she clung to in search of a father figure and the powerful struggle that made her marriage to Prince Albert a battleground, Queen Victoria was always a woman in search of intimate relationships. As a daughter, a wife, a mother and the queen of a growing empire, as friends and family came and went, her pen remained her constant companion and friend.
By examining her closest relationships in the four decades after Albert’s death, Wilson tells the story of the Queen’s gradual freedom from a life spent under the shadow of domineering men. Victoria’s marriage had been a source of constraint as well as love, as Albert had used her pregnancies as a way to gain power and punished her for resenting it. In her widowhood, although bereft and deranged, Queen Victoria was free to move in the world of politics and make deep friendships without concern. From the controversial friendship with her highland servant John Brown to her most unconventional behaviour with her young Indian servant Abdul Karim, Wilson uncovers Victoria as a woman who was anything but ‘Victorian’. Far from being prim and proper, she loved life in all its richness – she was blind to class and colour and, contrary to what we think, had a great sense of humour.
Mondays from 4th September
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