Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Queen Alexandra: what to read

Sadly, and yes, tragically, for biographers and historians, Queen Alexandra, consort of Edward VII, did not leave much of a paper trail.   Both she and King Edward VII destroyed personal and private correspondence, diaries, and other papers.  Much of the carnage of Alexandra's personal papers was done by her friend and lady-in-waiting Charlotte Knollys.

This lack of material makes it difficult for historians and others to form a more detailed portrait of the Danish-born queen.

The best of the limited selection of books about Queen Alexandra is Georgina Battiscombe's Queen Alexandra, which was first published in 1968. 

Richard Hough shed no new light when he wrote Edward and Alexandra: Their Private and Public Lives (St. Martin's Press: 1993).  Apart from the already published books on the subjects,  Hough had nothing new to chew on.

There are also several hagiographies, books published within Alexandra's lifetime or shortly after her death.

George Arthur's Queen Alexandra was published by Chapman & Hall in 1934. 

W.R.H Trowbridge's Queen Alexandra was published by Fisher in 1923.

and finally,  David Duff's Alexandra: Princess and Queen (Collins: 1980). David Duff was a personal friend of mine.  I stayed at his home at Diss in Norfolk nearly every summer in the late 1970s and 1980s.  I did research for him, and made a few pounds to help defray my vacations.  His home was filled with royal memorabilia.  One year, he gave me a lovely signed photograph of Queen Mary, which hung on a wall in one of the loos.

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