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QUEEN VICTORIA RECYCLED Theo Aronson. Heart ofa Queen. Queen Victoria's Romantic Attachments. London: John Murray, 1991. viii + 272. £16.95 Monica Chariot. Victoria. The Young Queen. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991. vi + 492. $29.95 US. Giles St. Aubyn. Queen Victoria. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1991. ix + 669. £19.95. Dorothy Thompson. Queen Victoria. The Woman, the Monarch, and the People. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990. xv + 167. $18.95 US. We are now weU into a second century of books about Queen Victoria, and there is no sign that interest is abating. There is also no sign among the latest batch that anything significantly new in information or insights is present. Rather, there is much evidence of recycling—from Victoria's previous biographers and even from one author's previous books to his current one. The most pretentiously titled ofthe lot is Dorothy Thompson's short Ufe, with its subtitle The Woman, the Monarchy, and the People. WeU printed (which is not the case with some others), with clear and useful reproductions in the text itselfofcartoons and other contemporary memorabilia, it promises much but delivers Uttle. There is even something of a feminist slant in the description of the Queen's internal conflict between her "Victorian" sense of her gender's role and her insistent, iferratic, wielding ofroyal authority. Yet Thompson offers us a supermarket tabloid chapter on Victoria and John Brown that renders suspect anything she has written on anything else, and then throws in two overweighted chapters on republicanism in nineteenthcentury England which misrepresent the monarchy as being under real threat, although violent revolution bypassed England each time it occurred on the Continent, from the Bastille to the Commune and beyond. Even Victoria's decade ofmorbid mourning—or maUngering—failed to shake English political passivity into more than the trampling of flowerbeds in Hyde Park and the breaking of a few windows in Park Lane and Pall Mall. Theo Aronson's Heart of a Queen. Queen Victoria's Romantic Attachments is recycled Aronson. Some of his previous dozen books concerned in some way with royalties turn up here condensed into chapters, as on the Queen and Napoleon III, and the Queen and DisraeU. The arrogant and irreverent John Brown receives his share of pages with somewhat less 78Victorian Review innuendo than supplied by Dorothy Thompson, and Victoria's infatuation with India in her old age is represented by her protection of Abdul Karim, "the Munshi. " Since male beauty had been an obsession of the young Victoria, and India one of the later Queen, Aronson might have mentioned, at the least, the young Maharajah Duleep Singh, whose fuU-length portrait still hangs at Osborne House. He was sixteen when he was ousted from the Punjab, and flitted in and out of her Ufe until he was nearly sixty. Romance? No. But neither was John Brown more than a devoted, if overgrown, son. Maternal instincts are difficult to separate from other dimensions of love. Romantic attachment is a term that Aronson uses rather loosely to accommodate princes, prime ministers, monarchs, servants and others in her orbit. But neither Aronson nor Thompson nor the others even mention the tragic John Elphinstone, the handsome guardsman to whom she was attracted in 1836 when still a princess. The thirteenth and last Lord Elphinstone was exiled on the Duchess of Kent's command to distant Madras, where he became Royal Governor, returning after ten years in India to become Lord-inWaiting to Victoria, her personal reversal of his banishment. At the time of the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 he was back in India as Governor of Bombay, where he distinguished himself. The Queen had him raised a notch in the peerage on his return, referring to him as a "friend, " a rare term for her. In 1860, when he died at fifty-three, his peerage extinct, she was weU aware why he had remained unmarried. Although the love story, if that is what it was, is ignored by all four biographers, it is one in which some reliable contemporaries believed. Someday an enterprising Victorian scholar will explore it. The biography that promises the most is Monica Chariot's Victoria. The Young Queen, as Chariot...


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