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Magnificent Obsession
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When Queen Victoria s husband, Prince Albert, died in December 1861 the nation was paralysed with grief. He was only 42 and official bulletins had, until the day before he died, given no cause for alarm. But in fact Albert had been in a progressive physical decline for years worn out by overwork, stress and the exacting standards he set himself. His death was a catastrophe for the queen, who not only adored her husband but had, through 21 years of marriage, utterly relied on him- as companion, father of their children, friend, confidant, wise counsellor and unofficial private secretary. There was not a single aspect of public business on which she had not deferred to his advice and greater wisdom. She would even consult him on what bonnet to wear. Britain had lost its king, for that is the role that Albert had performed in all but name. Politicians and the press agreed that his death was a national calamity. The public, totally unprepared, responded with a massive outpouring of grief. This royal death had a profound impact on Britain. Cast adrift and alone,the Queen donned the widow s weeds that she would wear for 40 years, till her own death in 1901. Her grieving was re
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A poignant and fascinating account of a queen and country in mourning

About the Author

Helen Rappaport is an historian and Russianist with a specialism in the Victorians and revolutionary Russia. Her books include Ekaterinburg- The Last Days of the Romanovs and No Place for Ladies- The Untold Story of Women in the Crimean War. She lives in Oxford. For more information, you can visit her website at www.helenrappaport.com

Reviews

"In this intriguing study, Helen Rappaport sets out to tell the story of the royal anguish that followed Albert's death in December 1861 ... she excels in her portrayal of a cult of mourning over which the queen presided with all the imperious intensity of a high priestess. Fair-minded, thoughtful and rich in social detail." Sunday Times "Rappaport uses new sources to give a vivid account of Albert's death ... a valuable and insightful book which will change our view of Queen Victoria." Spectator "Rappaport draws on a wide range of sources, including unpublished royal letters, contemporary diaries and newspapers to create an insightful, absorbing and highly readable account of these events, but Magnificent Obsession is also a fascinating exposition of the art of mourning which Victoria made peculiarly her own ... Magnificent Obsession is that rare creature; a scholarly book that wears its learning lightly and is written with clarity and insight. It is a fascinating subject and an even better read: a model of its kind." Sunday Express "To mark the 150th anniversary of Albert's death, Helen Rappaport looks at the circumstances leading up to it, the ritual of his funeral and obsequies, and offers new theories on what killed him." Majesty magazine "A brilliant new book ... Helen Rappaport is especially good on the incompetence of the gang of medics who presided over Albert's illness." Daily Mail

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