Becoming Victoria


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Lynne Vallone

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Just eight months old when her father, Edward, duke of Kent, died unexpectedly, the princess Victoria moved significantly closer to England’s throne. The task of raising a potential female monarch assumed critical importance for the nation, yet Victoria’s girlhood and adolescence have received scant attention from historians, cultural critics, and even her biographers. In this engaging and revealing book, Lynne Vallone shows us a new Victoria—a lively and passionate girl very different from the iconic dour widow of the queen’s later life.
Based on a thorough exploration of the young Victoria’s own letters, stories, drawings, educational materials, and journals—documents that have been under appreciated until now—the book illuminates the princess’s childhood from her earliest years to her accession to the throne at age eighteen in 1837. Vallone presents a fresh assessment of “the rose of England” within the culture of girlhood and domestic life in the 1820s and 1830s. The author also explores the complex and often conflicting contexts of the period, including Georgian children’s literature, conventional childrearing practices, domestic and familial intrigues, and the frequently turbulent political climate. Part biography, part historical and cultural study, this richly illustrated volume uncovers in fascinating detail the childhood that Victoria actually lived.

Lynne Vallone is associate professor of English at Texas A & M University. She is the author of Disciplines of Virtue: Girl’s Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, published by Yale University Press.

"There is much here that all students of childhood, besides students of Victoria, will find instructive and enjoyable."—Anthony Fletcher, History

“[A] compelling glimpse at a great queen’s girlhood.”—Susan Balée, Philadelphia Inquirer

“The writer sets Victoria in a fascinating context very different from the political or cultural ones she usually appears in. Discussing her reading; her journal, stories and drawings; her interactions with her mother and her governess, Vallone shows the conflicts and accommodations of an ordinary girl in an extraordinary position. The pedagogy of early 19th century England is nearly as outlandish to us as the carryings-on of the squabbling, corrupt royal family, and Vallone does justice to both.”—Christina Büchmann, Newsday

“Vallone’s fascinating book looks at the childhood and adolescence of the spirited Victoria, a likable and unaffected young girl who, after the festivities of her coronation day (at the age of eighteen), changed out of her robes of state and gave her dog Dash a bath.”—Town & Country Summer reading list

“This well-illustrated volume is a remarkable picture of Georgian childhood among the privileged, a commentary on that period’s political climate. It is a substantial work of scholarship, one that will be enjoyed by those with an interest in history and the royals.”—Gail Cooke, Arizona Daily Star

“Through an exhaustive use of material in the Royal Archives and a judicious application of cultural and literary critical theory, Vallone succeeds in defining Victoria’s girlhood as existing within the narrowly conceived notions of female virtues.”—Choice

“[An] edifying and thoughtful account of Victoria’s early years. . . . This well illustrated volume is a remarkable picture of Georgian childhood among the privileged, a commentary on that period’s political climate and mores. It is a substantial work of scholarship, one that will be especially enjoyed by those with an interest in history and the royals.”—Denton, Texas Record-Chronicle

“Vallone . . . assesses the princess’s world in a style both clear and graceful, and she illustrates and documents her conclusions in an exemplary manner.”—Walter L. Arnstein, The Historian

"This book is a delight, with copious illustrations to pore over and scholarship presented in lively prose leavened with contemporary references."—Susan Drain, Atlantis

ISBN: 9780300197693
Publication Date: June 1, 2001
276 pages, 7 x 10
36 b/w + 15 color illus.
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