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About the book
  • Published: 3 September 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099537465
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $27.99

Magnificent Obsession

Victoria, Albert and the Death That Changed the Monarchy




A poignant and fascinating account of a queen and country in mourning

When Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, died in December 1861 the nation was paralysed with grief. He was only forty-two 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 twenty-one 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.

Magnificent Obsession examines the circumstances leading up to Albert's death, the ritual of his funeral and offers new theories on what killed him. This is a compelling and moving account of a country and a Queen in mourning.

  • Pub date: 3 September 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099537465
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $27.99

About the Author

Helen Rappaport

Helen Rappaport is a historian with a specialism in late Imperial Russia and the Victorians. She is the author of thirteen published books, including the Sunday Times bestseller Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses; Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs and Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, 1917. Helen is also historical consultant to the ITV drama series, Victoria and her books about the Victorians include Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy.

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Praise for Magnificent Obsession

“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

“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

“Brilliant . . . Helen Rappaport is especially good on the incompetence of the gang of medics who presided over Albert's illness.”

Daily Mail

“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 remarkable book . . . a brilliant read.”

Dovegrey Reader

“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


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