Magazine article The New Yorker

Long Live the Queen

Magazine article The New Yorker

Long Live the Queen

Article excerpt

Queens lead double lives, as women and as figments of our collective imagination. In her long old age, Queen Victoria often corrected idealized portraits of herself by her biographers, who tended to overvalue her needlework and her juvenile poetry: "Really what will people not say & invent!" In BECOMING VICTORIA (Yale), which is being published on the centenary of the queen's death, Lynne Vallone reassesses the importance of Victoria's early writing. In her teen-age journals, the princess longs for adventure: "The road is as flat as a table; we might go on very fast, but I am sorry to say, we do not."

Vallone describes Victoria's youth and gender as "the essence of her sovereign power," in contrast to Elizabeth I, who liked to refer to herself as a prince. In Robin Maxwell's historical novel VIRGIN (Arcade), which imagines Elizabeth's girlhood relationship with Thomas Seymour, the princess even cross-dresses. …

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