Portrait of a Princess as a Young Woman

This notice is for the real Anglophiles out there.  I have just processed a book titled The portrait annual of illustrious and eminent personages of the nineteenth century; with short biographical sketches / by William Jerdan. London : Fisher, Son, & Co., 1839 (State Library of Pennsylvania call number 920.042 J471p).  It’s a familiar sort of volume containing engraved portraits and biographical sketches of 2-14 pages each.  These all happen to be English earls and barons and dukes and so on.

Well, almost all.  Toward the end of the volume – not right at the front?? – there is a portrait and biography of “Amelia Adelaide Louisa Theresa Caroline, of Saxe-Meiningen, Queen of England, etc. etc. etc. etc.”.  The sketch begins “We believe there are few positions more difficult than that of a female sovereign of England.  She usually arrives a stranger, accustomed to other language and other manners, and is suddenly placed in a most conspicuous and responsible situation, where every movement will have the importance of influence and of example….”  This was when they were accustomed to receive queens born elsewhere in Europe.

But that’s not what I found most interesting.

The next portrait and biography is of “The Princess Alexandrina Victoria, etc. etc. etc. etc.”.  She would have been about 20 when this volume was published (1839), though her portrait appears to be of a younger girl, which is more appropriate to the 1832 date on the engraving. 

What is odd to me about all this is that the Princess became Queen Victoria in 1837 at age 18.  Did no one tell the publisher this?  Or is our volume a set of bound fascicles that were originally published separately, someone adding the portrait and biography of the Princess there near the end behind a much later title page?

Attractive portrait, by the way; not at all the dour matron of the more familiar golden and diamond jubilee photographs of half a century later.

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Published in: on 15 March 2007 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  

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