Queen Victoria was one of the most complex cultural productions of her age. This text investigates the meanings Victoria held for her times, Victoria's own contributions to Victorian writing and art, and the cultural mechanisms through which her influence was felt. Arguing that being, seeming, and appearing were crucial to Victoria's "rule," the text explores the variability of Victoria's agency and of its representations using a wide array of literary, historical, and visual sources. It shows how Victoria provided a deeply equivocal model for women's powers in and out of marriage, how Victoria's dramatic public withdrawal after Albert's death helped to ease the monarchy's transition to an entirely symbolic role, and how Victoria's literary self-representations influenced debates over political self-representation. Versions of Victoria are considered in the work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, John Ruskin, Margaret Oliphant, Lewis Carroll, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Julia Margaret Cameron.
Figures Forward, by Catharine R. Stimpson Introduction: The Queen's Agency 1. Queen Victoria's Sovereign Obedience "The Queen Has No Equal": The Problem of a Female Monarchy Privacy on Display: The Queen as Wife and Mother The Queenly Courtship of Elizabeth Barrett Photographic Realism's Abject Queens 2. Queen Victoria's Widowhood and the Making of Victorian Queens The Invisible Queen Domestic Queens: Miss Marjoribanks Making Queens: "Of Queens' Gardens" and the Alice Books 3. The Widow as Author and the Arts and Powers of Concealment Bagehot's The English Constitution The Queen's Books: The Early Years of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort The Queen's Books: Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands The Reform Bill and the Queen's Footnotes 4. Queen Victoria's Memorial Arts Albert Memorials Tennyson's Idylls of the King as an Albert Memorial Cameron's Photographic Idylls: Allegorical Realism and Memorial Art Epilogue: Empire of Grief Notes Index