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Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise

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The secrets of Queen Victoria's sixth child, Princess Louise, may be destined to remain hidden forever. What was so dangerous about this artistic, tempestuous royal that her life has been documented more by rumor and gossip than hard facts? When Lucinda Hawksley started to investigate, often thwarted by inexplicable secrecy, she discovered a fascinating woman, modern befor The secrets of Queen Victoria's sixth child, Princess Louise, may be destined to remain hidden forever. What was so dangerous about this artistic, tempestuous royal that her life has been documented more by rumor and gossip than hard facts? When Lucinda Hawksley started to investigate, often thwarted by inexplicable secrecy, she discovered a fascinating woman, modern before her time, whose story has been shielded for years from public view. Louise was a sculptor and painter, friend to the Pre-Raphaelites and a keen member of the Aesthetic movement. The most feisty of the Victorian princesses, she kicked against her mother's controlling nature and remained fiercely loyal to her brothers-especially the sickly Leopold and the much-maligned Bertie. She sought out other unconventional women, including Josephine Butler and George Eliot, and campaigned for education and health reform and for the rights of women. She battled with her indomitable mother for permission to practice the "masculine" art of sculpture and go to art college-and in doing so became the first British princess to attend a public school. The rumors of Louise's colorful love life persist even today, with hints of love affairs dating as far back as her teenage years, and notable scandals included entanglements with her sculpting tutor Joseph Edgar Boehm and possibly even her sister Princess Beatrice's handsome husband, Liko. True to rebellious form, she refused all royal suitors and became the first member of the royal family, since the sixteenth century, to marry a commoner. She moved with him to Canada when he was appointed Governor-General. Spirited and lively, Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter is richly packed with arguments, intrigues, scandals, and secrets, and is a vivid portrait of a princess desperate to escape her inheritance.


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The secrets of Queen Victoria's sixth child, Princess Louise, may be destined to remain hidden forever. What was so dangerous about this artistic, tempestuous royal that her life has been documented more by rumor and gossip than hard facts? When Lucinda Hawksley started to investigate, often thwarted by inexplicable secrecy, she discovered a fascinating woman, modern befor The secrets of Queen Victoria's sixth child, Princess Louise, may be destined to remain hidden forever. What was so dangerous about this artistic, tempestuous royal that her life has been documented more by rumor and gossip than hard facts? When Lucinda Hawksley started to investigate, often thwarted by inexplicable secrecy, she discovered a fascinating woman, modern before her time, whose story has been shielded for years from public view. Louise was a sculptor and painter, friend to the Pre-Raphaelites and a keen member of the Aesthetic movement. The most feisty of the Victorian princesses, she kicked against her mother's controlling nature and remained fiercely loyal to her brothers-especially the sickly Leopold and the much-maligned Bertie. She sought out other unconventional women, including Josephine Butler and George Eliot, and campaigned for education and health reform and for the rights of women. She battled with her indomitable mother for permission to practice the "masculine" art of sculpture and go to art college-and in doing so became the first British princess to attend a public school. The rumors of Louise's colorful love life persist even today, with hints of love affairs dating as far back as her teenage years, and notable scandals included entanglements with her sculpting tutor Joseph Edgar Boehm and possibly even her sister Princess Beatrice's handsome husband, Liko. True to rebellious form, she refused all royal suitors and became the first member of the royal family, since the sixteenth century, to marry a commoner. She moved with him to Canada when he was appointed Governor-General. Spirited and lively, Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter is richly packed with arguments, intrigues, scandals, and secrets, and is a vivid portrait of a princess desperate to escape her inheritance.

30 review for Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I highly recommend Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley! The book is well researched. The author has put a big effort into gathering information, much having been hidden from public view. The information is presented in a chronological, clear and orderly fashion. It keeps your interest; neither too much nor too little detail is provided. It is unbiased, balanced. Opposing views are weighed against each other allowing one to analyze known facts i I highly recommend Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley! The book is well researched. The author has put a big effort into gathering information, much having been hidden from public view. The information is presented in a chronological, clear and orderly fashion. It keeps your interest; neither too much nor too little detail is provided. It is unbiased, balanced. Opposing views are weighed against each other allowing one to analyze known facts in an objective and impartial manner. The book is not hard to follow, despite the fact that so many Victorian royals go by the same name! The first thing that I did was to make a list of Queen Victoria’s nine children by date of birth. All of them, including their spouses and offsping are discussed! In the hope that this will help other readers, I am providing it here: 1.Princess Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise—“Vicky” November 21, 1840 – Aug 5, 1901 Married Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, who became the emperor of Germany. Their son was Kaiser Wilhelm. 2.Prince Albert Edward Wettin—“Bertie”--King Edward VII November 9, 1841- May 6, 1910 Became King Edward VII when Queen Victoria died. Married Alexandra of Denmark. Their son became King George V who married Mary of Teck. Their son David, the wayward Edward VIII, is he who abdicated for Wallace Simpson. With his abdication, his one year younger brother Albert Frederick Arthur George, another one nicknamed “Bertie” in the family, became King George VI. George VI was king from 1936 until his death in 1952. 3.Princess Alice Maud Mary—Grand Duchess of Hesse April 25, 1843 – Dec 14, 1878 Married Prince Ludwig of Hesse. Their daughter Alexandra, “Alix”, married Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia. 4.Prince Alfred Ernest Albert—Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha--“Alfie” Aug 6, 1844 – July 30, 1900 Married Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. 5.Princess Helena Augusta Victoria May 25, 1846 – June 9, 1923 Married Prince Frederick Christian of Schleswig-Holstein 6.Princess Louise Caroline Alberta—Duchess of Argyll March 18, 1848 – Dec 3, 1939 Married a commoner--John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, who became the 9th Duke of Argyll. He became Governor General of Canada and was homosexual. Canada’s province of Alberta and Lake Louise are named for Princess Louise. 7.Prince Arthur—Duke of Connaught and Strathearn May 1, 1850 – Jan 16, 1942 Married Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia. Another who became Governor General of Canada. He was Queen Victoria’s favorite son. 8.Prince Leopold—Duke of Albany April 7, 1853 – Mar 28. 1884 Married Princess Helena Frederica of Waldeck and Pymont. He died at the age of 30 from hemophilia. 9.Princess Beatrice April 14, 1857 – Oct 26, 1944 Married Prince Henry of Battenberg. Their son Leopold was hemophiliac, as was his uncle Leopold. Their daughter, Victoria, passed the hemophilia gene on to the Spanish royal family. Princess Beatrice became Queen Victoria’s close confidant. She altered family archives, and still today much is not accessible to the public. Princess Louise saw, lived and experienced all of this. Through her life we follow the regents from Queen Victoria to King Edward VII to King George V through to the abdication of Edward VIII and the reign of George VI. These were the members of her family. Their lives and her life were tightly intertwined. So although Princess Louise is the central focus of the book, it is not just about her life but about all their lives that we learn. In reading this book you grasp a strong sense of family. Louise and her siblings are viewed both as unique individuals and as members of one large and diverse family. This aspect of the book, the sense of family that is drawn, is something I really appreciate. The succession from one reign to the next is easily grasped. Princess Louise was a remarkable woman, and she deserves to be better known. That Beatrice altered and hid from public view facts of her life does make you curious! What was so alarming that had to be hidden? Her husband was homosexual. She had extramarital love affairs. It seems quite clear that (view spoiler)[she had a child out of wedlock—Henry Lowcock (hide spoiler)] . Princess Louise was a woman ahead of her time. She was an artist, a sculptress and an author, occupations not generally accepted for women at this time. She was a suffragist and feminist She embraced change. She supported the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and later art nouveau. The new inventions of the early 20th century enthused her. She loved the radio and had it installed in hospitals. Adoring the invigorating rush and excitement of speed, she got herself a car. She worked toward improving the lives of the middle and lower classes. Even into old age, she actively worked with charities and supported reforms for better education, health care, women’s rights and alleviating the plight of the poor. We get a good idea of her personality, her likes and dislikes and propensities. Little stories are told about her that make her a living and breathing person. She was approachable. Often she travelled incognito, allowing her to slip into events and situations unobserved. On one occasion, entering into a church, she was yelled at and told she must immediately leave because royalty was awaited. Her response was that the man should observe her carefully, a mini-preview of what was to come later! When asked why she pruned the roses in the garden herself, she replied that the only way to get something done right was to do it yourself. We come to recognize her sense of humor and witness her bursts of anger. All said she was the prettiest of the girls. She had a flair for dressing with style. Her clothes on different occasions are described in detail. At gatherings she was witty and vivacious. There is a story about her marriage rings. She had requested that they be removed before cremation. She instructed that she was to be cremated on death, again not an ordinary choice. The rings were not removed before cremation, but strangely enough neither were they incinerated, and so they could be put in the urn with her ashes as she had originally requested. The audiobook is narrated by Jennifer M. Dixon. She reads at a good speed and you clearly hear every word that is said. Four stars for the narration performance; it is very good. You quite simply cannot read just one book about the Victorian age or Queen Victoria and her children. There is repetition from book to book but they each provide details missing from the other books. You get different perspectives. I am very glad to have read this book. I have been tempted to give it five stars. ******************** *We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals 4 stars *Queen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise 4 stars *Victoria The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire 4 stars *George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I 4 stars *Nicholas and Alexandra 5 stars *Victoria and Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant 3 stars *Bertie: A Life of Edward VII 1 star

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    Of all of Queen Victoria’s nine children, Princess Louise was perhaps the most un-Victorian, making her a very interesting royal to read about. Louise painted and sculpted, hung around with pre-Raphaelites, and was a member of the Aesthetic movement. She also embraced exercise, admired unconventional women like novelist George Eliot, supported women’s rights when even her libertine brother Bertie believed females should be compliant and submissive, refused to marry a foreign prince, almost certa Of all of Queen Victoria’s nine children, Princess Louise was perhaps the most un-Victorian, making her a very interesting royal to read about. Louise painted and sculpted, hung around with pre-Raphaelites, and was a member of the Aesthetic movement. She also embraced exercise, admired unconventional women like novelist George Eliot, supported women’s rights when even her libertine brother Bertie believed females should be compliant and submissive, refused to marry a foreign prince, almost certainly had love affairs, and may have had a child out of wedlock--which is perhaps why more than 75 years after her death the files on Princess Louise at the Royal Archives remain closed and unavailable for researchers, as if there is something about her that is so shocking it still must be hidden. Even with that source restriction, Lucinda Hawksley has put together a fascinating and intriguing account of Princess Louise, and through her a picture of Britain and its extended royal family from the Victorian age, when her mother was queen, to the dawn of WWI, when her nephew Kaiser Wilhelm was causing trouble in Germany.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Queen Victoria had nine children (who all looked exactly alike, btw) between 1841 and 1857, although she was frightened of childbirth and didn't like children. And she wasn't a very good mother... Go figure. This is an interesting and well-written biography of Princess Louise, the sixth child and fourth daughter born to Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert. Louise was an artist, although her family didn't always take her seriously in that respect. She fought for independence from her tyrannic Queen Victoria had nine children (who all looked exactly alike, btw) between 1841 and 1857, although she was frightened of childbirth and didn't like children. And she wasn't a very good mother... Go figure. This is an interesting and well-written biography of Princess Louise, the sixth child and fourth daughter born to Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert. Louise was an artist, although her family didn't always take her seriously in that respect. She fought for independence from her tyrannical mother and for more equality for women, while still performing many of the state duties of a royal princess. She was definitely the least "royal" of her family, in the way she interacted with people of all classes and was easy to talk to. The book doesn't skip over the rough parts of her personality, either; Louise had a fiery temper and little patience at times. She also had quite an appetite for love, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, based on her upbringing. Her marriage was not a love match, and in fact, her husband was probably gay. They spent a lot of time apart, and Louise was rumored to have had several serious affairs, and even a child born out of wedlock. The reason for the "mysterious" part of the title is that many of the first-hand accounts of the family's life were purged by Beatrice, the youngest princess, after the queen's death. Letters and documents related to Louise were very difficult to find, and some conjecture is necessary. But Hawksley makes sure to note when that was the case, and the amount and quality of the research behind the known facts are quite amazing. The book is organized well and is mostly chronological. Even listening to the audiobook, I didn't have a difficult time with the many names and titles of the royals, aristocrats, artists, and servants mentioned throughout. Jennifer M. Dixon does an outstanding job with the narration of the audiobook. The book will interest anyone who wants to learn more about the royal family in general, and especially about Victoria's children. Louise was definitely a woman ahead of her time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    It appears that the efforts to keep Princess Louise a mystery have worked. Take a look at the descriptive entry that begins the Goodreads page for Victoria's Daughters . Her name is omitted from the introductory sentence and in what it says about her in summary is not exactly so. Lucinda Hawskley did her best to get access to the princess’s records. They are closed at British government sources as well as at private collections. Even the files of her tutors have been taken into royal collections It appears that the efforts to keep Princess Louise a mystery have worked. Take a look at the descriptive entry that begins the Goodreads page for Victoria's Daughters . Her name is omitted from the introductory sentence and in what it says about her in summary is not exactly so. Lucinda Hawskley did her best to get access to the princess’s records. They are closed at British government sources as well as at private collections. Even the files of her tutors have been taken into royal collections and sealed. Hawksley has pieced enough together to show the why the powers that be want those records sealed. Despite the iron fist of her mother, she was able to carve out an artistic career and some semblance of an independent life. She got her mother to agree to art lessons and later got her mother to support artist friends who may have been her lovers. Hawksley doesn’t explore it, but it could be that mother and daughter agreed to a marriage to protect Louise from the ramifications of her romantic life. (Could Louise equally have had enough knowledge of the Queen and John Brown to force her mother’s hand?) Also not explored is that Louise may have chosen Lorne Campbell precisely because he was gay which meant she could continue her flirtations without jealous reprisal. For all her romantic endeavors, Louise performed her “princess duties” attending diplomatic and patriotic functions, cutting ribbons and raising money for charity. Hawksley shows that she was beloved by the people, more so than other members of her family. Both she and her husband supported liberal causes – such as women’s rights (an anathema to her mother) – health care and public education. The book is best in the Princess’s most active years (into her late 60’s) after that it is bogged down in lists of charities and functions… most likely reflecting the princess’s life at the time. Queen Victoria comes off even worse than she does in Victoria's Daughters for her self-involvement and pettiness. You read how John Brown joined her in emotionally abusing her children. This surely created a horrible synergy for an already emotionally stunted family. When the records are finally opened, this book may be the foundation for future research.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    The mystery of Princess Louise is that the Royal Archives and other usual repositories of letters, diaries, and other documents, have locked up the papers of Louise. Normally papers of this sort are available for biographers and scholars to examine on request, so why the big secrecy? Not to be thwarted, biographer Lucinda Hawksley has found letters and diaries of Louise's correspondents, interviews with some who knew her, and news accounts of Louise's public appearances, piecing together a remar The mystery of Princess Louise is that the Royal Archives and other usual repositories of letters, diaries, and other documents, have locked up the papers of Louise. Normally papers of this sort are available for biographers and scholars to examine on request, so why the big secrecy? Not to be thwarted, biographer Lucinda Hawksley has found letters and diaries of Louise's correspondents, interviews with some who knew her, and news accounts of Louise's public appearances, piecing together a remarkably detailed biography of the daughter of Queen Victoria. Hawksley decides that the big secret is that Louise had a child when she was an unmarried teenager and he was adopted by distant acquaintances. With only circumstantial evidence to go on, it's hard to say if this is indeed the big secret, but it simply isn't enough to hang a book on. The other exciting news about Louise is that she was an artist (painter and sculptor) and she supported women's rights during the notoriously repressive Victorian era. Unfortunately, Hawksley skims over the art that Louise produced, concentrating mainly on the gossipy aspects -- was Louise having an affair with this artist and that one? The art movements and Louise's place in it isn't addressed much. As for the support of women's rights, I expected to read that she was marching alongside the Pankhursts, but apparently her support was not public. She expressed admiration for women who were breaking out of the usual molds, but her expressions were private ones. That leaves an almost day by day accounting of weddings, births, visits to Balmoral and such, and in the distant background, a few Boer Wars and some Irish unrest. I found Jane Ridley's biography of Louise's brother Bertie, The Heir Apparent, who would rule as King Edward VII, a much more interesting history of the same time period.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Traves

    Very well written and interesting, but rather too much speculation for my taste. It annoyed me that events that the author made educated, and not unreasonable, guesses about were stated as facts later in the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Like many, I find myself intrigued by royalty. Any royalty, really - but particularly in England, So the premise of this book, about a daughter of Queen Victoria who seems to have been somewhat erased from history, was definitely of interest. Knowing how the royals are covered these days, and how prominent a position they often play, I was curious how a Princess could just...disappear. Lucinda Hawksley has done a great job of attempting to explain that very thing. Princess Louise appears to be o Like many, I find myself intrigued by royalty. Any royalty, really - but particularly in England, So the premise of this book, about a daughter of Queen Victoria who seems to have been somewhat erased from history, was definitely of interest. Knowing how the royals are covered these days, and how prominent a position they often play, I was curious how a Princess could just...disappear. Lucinda Hawksley has done a great job of attempting to explain that very thing. Princess Louise appears to be one of the more beloved royals of her time, and yet the very things that made her so valuable are the very same things that scandalized her mother. She was popular with the people, did a significant amount to help the conditions of the poor and working class, and was a noted artist...yet one rarely hears about her. Hawksley has written a biography, but it is one that is - by necessity - also informed by sources other than "official" ones. With her access to the royal archives being denied (as it has been for many who wished to research Princess Louise), some of her conclusions are based on conjecture and educated guesses. While this may annoy those who opt for strict sourcing in a biography, it did seem understandable to me considering the circumstances. Hawksley also pulls no punches - she makes it clear that being Victoria's daughter was no bed of roses, and that Louise was far from perfect. The entire royal family, in fact, had some *serious* issues. But overall, Louise comes across as a pioneer of the times, and a mostly sympathetic character. The biggest downside to the book was the simple fact that I could not keep names straight. There were so many that I started getting confused and losing track of which was from way back, who was a friend or artist vs. employee, etc. It did get a bit disconcerting at times. Frankly, I got to the point where I just blew by most of them unless it was something fairly significant. Overall, I did find the book quite interesting. I find it a shame that so much of Princess Louise's contributions seem to have been whitewashed over, and continue to be, because of mysteries that happened in the past. I think she would be "much moved and gratified" to know that she hasn't truly been forgotten.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Willems

    Very, very rarely will I quit a book, I find it very hard to do and much prefer to plug ahead and hope for some bit of redemption on the author's part to draw me in. On that note, I just have to say I was rather disappointed by this one. I read a lot of biographies and particularly enjoy ones in this era, however when first I read in the introduction that the author was unable to access much viable information and instead choose to rely on gossip and rumour to base her research on .. I start our Very, very rarely will I quit a book, I find it very hard to do and much prefer to plug ahead and hope for some bit of redemption on the author's part to draw me in. On that note, I just have to say I was rather disappointed by this one. I read a lot of biographies and particularly enjoy ones in this era, however when first I read in the introduction that the author was unable to access much viable information and instead choose to rely on gossip and rumour to base her research on .. I start our very skeptical. To further that, when the language of the writing doesn't fit with the era of the subject, I find it is difficult to stay genuine to the subject. When I come to the line, (describing Queen Victoria) 'the queen writes bitchily.." I'm sorry, you've lost me. I don't like to criticize an author, (as I am not one) sadly this one was just not for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    While the first quarter of this book flew quickly by, it soon began to drag. I put it down repeatedly and read several books before I managed to finish it, and by the end I was skimming. Part of that is due to the poor editing and misused language. Whole sections are repetitive, an there is some very odd abuse of the English tongue that a decent proofreader/editor should have caught. Hawksley writes of a "muted" family party (instead of sober or saddened)--did someone turn the sound off? She cla While the first quarter of this book flew quickly by, it soon began to drag. I put it down repeatedly and read several books before I managed to finish it, and by the end I was skimming. Part of that is due to the poor editing and misused language. Whole sections are repetitive, an there is some very odd abuse of the English tongue that a decent proofreader/editor should have caught. Hawksley writes of a "muted" family party (instead of sober or saddened)--did someone turn the sound off? She claims Prince Eddy was "implemented" (instead of implicated) in a sexual scandal--well, okay, so he was involved, but...Again, she speaks of Louise taking "long cleansing baths" (are there any other kind?) and a "beautiful Aesthetic beauty". Not content with that, she tells us "The sisters met for the briefest of meetings in a railway station." One presided and the other acted as secretary, then? The first two chapters are filled with the "mystery" the author creates around her subject. We are told that the documents are off limits, as if this were some grand conspiracy. Since she was denied access to the papers, Hawksley resorts to rumour, gossip and speculation. In line with current trends, of course (!) Hawksley decides that there was a hidden premarital love child and since it was an arranged marriage, Louise's husband must have been homosexual--for which she has no real documentation, either! Apparently she is unaware of the many Victorian marriages in which both wealthy spouses basically lived separate lives, had separate friends and took separate holidays. She prefers to join the long tradition of British tabloid journalism by filling in the factual gaps with quotes from scandal sheets of the day. She uses her own imagination and supposition to give Louise a train of lovers, in scabrous detail. This could have been an engaging read, but by the the First World War, Hawksley was tired of her subject, and rushed through the next twenty years. By that time I was certainly tired of the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Princess Louise was the sixth of Queen Victoria's nine children and, as it turns out, a rather interesting person. Lucinda Hawksley does a lovely job of taking readers through the life of the Princess, from her stifling childhood under the wing of her famously critical mother to her death on the eve on World War II. It talks about the scandals in her life (the rumors of an illegitimate child conceived while still an unmarried teenager, her marria I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Princess Louise was the sixth of Queen Victoria's nine children and, as it turns out, a rather interesting person. Lucinda Hawksley does a lovely job of taking readers through the life of the Princess, from her stifling childhood under the wing of her famously critical mother to her death on the eve on World War II. It talks about the scandals in her life (the rumors of an illegitimate child conceived while still an unmarried teenager, her marriage to a quite-probably gay man, the death of her longtime lover while in flagrante) but focuses equally on her struggles and achievements as a royal artist, as a public face of the monarchy, a politician's wife, and a philanthropist. I found myself deeply interested in the life of this woman whom I had known very little about prior to picking up the book, and greatly enjoyed her story. My only real issue with the book is its ending. Following the death of Lorne, Hawksley seems to run out of steam and the last couple chapters of the book read like laundry lists of the charities supported by the elderly Princess. This could be the result of a lack of information, as the author explains how the Princess's personal files are sealed from public view, but it ends up being very dry. The last 40 pages were a bit of a struggle. Still, I enjoyed the book and felt it was a great window into the life of the Princess and, through her, Victorian society and the household of her royal mother.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    Finally, getting the review up for this one! A very interesting, and so far4 for me, the best book of the recent batch about Princess Louise, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. I like how that the author focused on Louise's artistic abilities and patronage, and not quite so much on the various rumours about an illegitimate child, various lovers, and the other sorts of tabloid fodder. It's very readable, well-researched and interesting right up to the end. Four stars overall, and a recommendation Finally, getting the review up for this one! A very interesting, and so far4 for me, the best book of the recent batch about Princess Louise, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. I like how that the author focused on Louise's artistic abilities and patronage, and not quite so much on the various rumours about an illegitimate child, various lovers, and the other sorts of tabloid fodder. It's very readable, well-researched and interesting right up to the end. Four stars overall, and a recommendation. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.bubblews.com/news/9631016-...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Chatfield

    Lucinda Hawksley, undeterred by lack of access to certain archives, has written a riveting account of Princess Louise. Known as Queen Victoria’s rebellious daughter, Louise was forward-thinking, artistic and outspoken. Ahead of her time, Princess Louise proves herself to be a strong and independent woman in spite of her royal constraints. “She is very indiscreet, and from that making mischief constantly”–Queen Victoria describing Princess Louise Louise was an unusual princess. Inspired by and invo Lucinda Hawksley, undeterred by lack of access to certain archives, has written a riveting account of Princess Louise. Known as Queen Victoria’s rebellious daughter, Louise was forward-thinking, artistic and outspoken. Ahead of her time, Princess Louise proves herself to be a strong and independent woman in spite of her royal constraints. “She is very indiscreet, and from that making mischief constantly”–Queen Victoria describing Princess Louise Louise was an unusual princess. Inspired by and involved with the Aesthetic movement, she was well acquainted with members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Her interest in art began at an early age and despite what was expected of her as a member of the royal family, she fought for the right to study the art of sculpture and attend art college. Her work was not without criticism, even from Pre-raphaelite chronicler William Michael Rossetti who believed that as a princess, her work was held to a different standard than that of a ‘professional artist’. Much of Louise’s life remains cloaked in secrecy and her files in the Royal Archives are closed. Not to be deterred, Hawksley has crafted what is known about the mysterious princess into an intriguing study of a woman determined to live life on her own terms as much as she possibly could. Despite obstacles, the author lays out the rumors that have surrounded Princess Louise and tackles them logically, one by one. From the beginning of her life, Princess Louise was belittled by her mother. Queen Victoria, mother of an empire, was manipulative and demanding to her own brood. She openly disliked babies and never hid the fact that she preferred to spend time alone with her husband, unencumbered by the children that didn’t quite meet her expectations. She frequently intimated that Louise was simple, although through the pages of this book, Louise is shown to be intelligent and interested in people and the world beyond the scope of the royal family. What is so scandalous about Princess Louise that keeps much of her life locked away in the archives? It seems that much of it has to do with her love life. It is entirely possible that she had a child out of wedlock, who was adopted by the son of Queen Victoria’s gynecologist. (A descendant of the child has attempted to get permission to retrieve DNA, but to no avail.) Her marriage was also fodder for speculation. Royal suitors were shunned by Princess Louise, until she finally (reluctantly) agreed to marry the Marquess of Lorne. Although they shared the same political beliefs and a passion for education reform, their marriage appears awkward and distant. Their union was childless–Louise seems to have had an active extramarital love life while her husband was widely speculated to have been homosexual. The Mystery of Princess Louise is a fascinating read and provides a rare look at Queen Victoria’s feisty, rebellious daughter. The mysteries that surround her can only increase both our interest and our appreciation for the life that she lived and her attempt to live it free from her mother’s control. This review originally appeared on my site, Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood: http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/re...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Even after reading this entire book, I’d say that Princess Louise is still pretty mysterious. I appreciate author Lucinda Hawksley’s interest in trying to flesh out this woman’s life, but the paper trail is just not there. As to why no one can access the papers and letters of Princess Louise, all is conjecture, because nobody's talking. This author’s theory is that Louise was scandalous, having a baby out of wedlock while still living in Buckingham Palace, as well as (perhaps) having many lovers Even after reading this entire book, I’d say that Princess Louise is still pretty mysterious. I appreciate author Lucinda Hawksley’s interest in trying to flesh out this woman’s life, but the paper trail is just not there. As to why no one can access the papers and letters of Princess Louise, all is conjecture, because nobody's talking. This author’s theory is that Louise was scandalous, having a baby out of wedlock while still living in Buckingham Palace, as well as (perhaps) having many lovers, so the Royal Family has decreed that no one can look at any of her personal stuff. But Hawksley just didn’t sell me on this theory. To me there could be other, less shocking reasons for blocking access. After reading the whole book, it occurred to me that perhaps Louise was bipolar, with many instances, even in her youth, of manic episodes and depression. She certainly seemed to have several episodes of depression throughout her adult life. Or perhaps her sister Beatrice, out of jealousy, wanted her older sister mostly erased from the family history. Perhaps Louise herself just didn’t want anyone prying into her life. But the author makes presumptions that she cannot back up with any documentation. That Louise’s marriage was not a love match, and was not always happy, seems certain – other people commented on that. But at one point Hawksley writes “Louise was desperate to get away from her husband.” I was expecting a footnote here to explain why she makes this assertion? But there wasn’t one. And there are many instances where she invents an emotion or an event from sheer conjecture. From the information written here, it actually seemed to me that Louise and her husband mostly found a way to get along, even if that meant that they required long stretches away from each other. They never actually separated, and that seems like it would have been easy enough to do. As to her “lover” sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehme, the “evidence” Hawksley presents just seems like old, overblown rumors. Because of the lack of access to Louise’s personal papers and letters, what we get is third-hand reminiscences (“when I was a child, my mother told me that Louise said to her…”), people mentioning Louise in their letters, ("the Princess was so kind and charming"), information from official court circulars, and newspaper accounts of her christening ships, attending parties, and traveling. It was impossible for me to get a sense of what she was really like. Overall, with the amount of factual information that is available about Princess Louise, I think this would have made a fascinating New Yorker story. Maybe one day her papers will become available, and someone can really do justice to Princess Louise, illegitimate baby and all - or not. What I learned: Alberta, Canada, is named after Princess Louise, whose full name was Louise Caroline Alberta.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    3.5 Intriguing how the Royal Archives remain firmly closed when it comes to Princess Louise. Hawksley does her best with the lack of material but I feel she sometimes assumes too much and I'm a long way from being convinced that all her theories about Louise are true. Enjoyable read though.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Before Princess Diana, there was another 'People's Princess', who won the sympathy and affection of people all across the world and is still remembered fondly in a way that few other of Queen Victoria's children are. Princess Louise is by far the most sympathetic of all Victoria's children, if only because she is the most recognisably modern. She was a bridge between the Victorian and modern world, living through the reigns of Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, through the u Before Princess Diana, there was another 'People's Princess', who won the sympathy and affection of people all across the world and is still remembered fondly in a way that few other of Queen Victoria's children are. Princess Louise is by far the most sympathetic of all Victoria's children, if only because she is the most recognisably modern. She was a bridge between the Victorian and modern world, living through the reigns of Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, through the upheaval of WW1 and died just after the outbreak of WW2. She was a rebel at a time when few women were, a woman who tried her best to defy her royal birth and follow her own path. She was a talented artist who mixed with the bohemian set, who had the common touch and was rarely aloof or haughty. And her life may have been even more rebellious than that... I say 'may', because much material relating to Princess Louise's life is closed to researchers, even now half a century and more after her death, and a result, biographies such as these contain far too much speculation to be treated as fact. I would hesitate to call this book genuine history, as there is just far too much supposition and, well, guesswork. Louise may have had an illegitimate child; she may have had lovers; her husband may have been gay. But none of this is fact. Frankly, it is hard to imagine what revelations in Louise's life could have been so shocking to the Royal Family that her records and papers are still closed. Even if all the above were true, whilst such things may have beyond the pale in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, few people today would bat an eyelid. The vast majority of the population probably don't even know Princess Louise existed, so it's scarcely plausible than any such revelations could rock the foundations of the monarchy. And keeping records of her life hidden and secret only gives rise to rumours and speculation, such as those that populate this book. None of this, of course, is the fault of the author, who freely acknowledges being stymied by the Royal Archives and red tape. But I'm always hesitant about authors who acknowledge supposition as such when first presented and then proceed as though that supposition were fact. Lucinda Hawksley has written a good book, but the lack of actual truth or hard evidence means it falls into that awkward gap between historical truth and imaginative narrative.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This was a fascinating book about someone I knew virtually nothing about. Princess Louise had a long and interesting life. She was a sculptor and painter who knew many of the artists of her time: the Pre-Raphaelites, Edward Lutyens, James Whistler, and many others. She was accepted not as a royal amateur, but as a genuine artist. Her sculpture of a seated Queen Victoria can still be seen in Kensington Gardens. The few works of hers I saw on the internet looked quite good to me. I'd like to see m This was a fascinating book about someone I knew virtually nothing about. Princess Louise had a long and interesting life. She was a sculptor and painter who knew many of the artists of her time: the Pre-Raphaelites, Edward Lutyens, James Whistler, and many others. She was accepted not as a royal amateur, but as a genuine artist. Her sculpture of a seated Queen Victoria can still be seen in Kensington Gardens. The few works of hers I saw on the internet looked quite good to me. I'd like to see more. She was also interested in the suffragist cause and in supporting many schools, hospitals, and other institutions aimed at bettering the lives of the less fortunate, particularly girls. Like many royals, she was involved in many charitable causes, but her caring seemed to go beyond just the expected thing to do. A couple of the most interesting parts of the book covered two different scandals. According to the author, Louise had an illegitimate son with one of her brother's tutors. Many years later, she supposedly had an affair with her sculpture teacher, who died while making love with her. Because so many of the archives remain closed, these are the author's conjectures and can't be verified. She does present a pretty good case for her allegations. In addition, Hawksley claims that Louise's husband, the Duke of Argyll, was gay. Whether or not these claims are true, Louise certainly led a spirited life, always striving to be artistic, independent, and true to herself.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Forsyth

    n recent months, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books written by the British biographer Lucinda Hawksley, and enjoyed them all. So I was drawn to read this biography of one of Queen Victoria’s daughters as much by the author as by the promise of the blurb: ‘packed with intrigues, scandals and secrets, (this is) a vivid portrait of a royal desperate to escape her inheritance.’ I was not disappointed. Lucinda Hawksley has a knack for bringing stories alive on the page, and Princess Louise n recent months, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books written by the British biographer Lucinda Hawksley, and enjoyed them all. So I was drawn to read this biography of one of Queen Victoria’s daughters as much by the author as by the promise of the blurb: ‘packed with intrigues, scandals and secrets, (this is) a vivid portrait of a royal desperate to escape her inheritance.’ I was not disappointed. Lucinda Hawksley has a knack for bringing stories alive on the page, and Princess Louise is a wonderful character. Outspoken, creative, and sensual, she smoked cigarettes, rode bicycles, and refused to wear a crinoline. It is rumoured she had an illegitimate baby, smuggled out of the palace by the queen’s doctor, and one of her lovers’ may have died in her arms. It is impossible to know the truth because – nearly 70 years after her death – her archives are stoutly locked away and no-one is permitted to read them. A fascinating mystery, indeed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Fascinating! What a forward-thinking, modern woman she was, and what great friends she had. I was especially fascinated by the Pre-Raphaelite connections, of course. The flaws in this book have nothing to do with Hawksley's writing or research - she did a wonderful job with the resources she was allowed to see. Someday, I hope, the archives will be opened, and a more comprehensive biography will be written.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zosi

    I was very excited to find this book as I really hadn’t been able to find any books on Princess Louise (and this book clearly explains why). The last book I did read that mentioned her was a biography on Princess Beatrice (whose perception of Louise is obviously very different from Louise’s own). Her story is fascinating, especially with the missing pieces and hidden files. She’s barely mentioned in most books about Queen Victoria’s daughters (and even grandchildren, as she didn’t have any (legi I was very excited to find this book as I really hadn’t been able to find any books on Princess Louise (and this book clearly explains why). The last book I did read that mentioned her was a biography on Princess Beatrice (whose perception of Louise is obviously very different from Louise’s own). Her story is fascinating, especially with the missing pieces and hidden files. She’s barely mentioned in most books about Queen Victoria’s daughters (and even grandchildren, as she didn’t have any (legitimate) children of her own) and yet this book paints an interesting and thorough picture of her, though her flaws were perhaps a little glossed over. In short, she led a much more interesting life than I had originally anticipated, and was truly a woman ahead of her time-and one who should receive more acclaim for both her artwork and the many social products that she spearheaded. In terms of the book itself, it was a little slow in parts (although that is usually the way of biographies in general) but I was also reading two other books at the same time so I only read about the last two thirds in one go. It would be very interesting to see, if the Crown were to release more information about her in the coming years, how much of the author’s well researched theories and assertions actually match up with the truth.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    A really good read. Princess Louise was an amazing woman who broke the mold. She would have been very comfortable in our time. She was an artist who backed the Women's Equality movement. Worked with all kinds of charities and just was cool

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I do not feel that the author made her case in this book. Stipulated that according to her, she was denied access to many collections that might have been able to help her make her case, I still feel too much of this book was gossip driven, not fact driven. The possibility that the Princess may have had a kid out of wedlock doesn't bother me. Nor do I think it would bother the royal family today after Diana and some of her sister in laws' behavior. Really, the author defeated her own case by pre I do not feel that the author made her case in this book. Stipulated that according to her, she was denied access to many collections that might have been able to help her make her case, I still feel too much of this book was gossip driven, not fact driven. The possibility that the Princess may have had a kid out of wedlock doesn't bother me. Nor do I think it would bother the royal family today after Diana and some of her sister in laws' behavior. Really, the author defeated her own case by pretty much admitting most people have no idea who she was or care. If that is the case, why would the royal archives hesitate about releasing the information? Considering the scandals mentioned in the book, starting with the royal abdication of King Edward VIII, anything Louise did was simply not particularly scandalous. She was just too far away from the throne to be a threat to the existence of the royal family. Now the possibility an artist died during the sex act with the Princess might make people pause even today. However, it would have at most drawn a headline or two and been over and done with. I have trouble believing either of these potential facts merit the secrecy the author is trying to claim. The author had a perfectly decent book without either of these potential scandals as well as numerous other potential scandals listed such as the potential fact that her husband was likely gay. I picked up the book because I knew almost nothing about this person. I appreciated learning that she was an artist of merit and patronized charities focusing on youth and women. I found it interesting that apparently her immense number of nieces and nephews considered her their favorite aunt and why. I wish the author hadn't dropped the ball and followed through on one quote from Princess Louise that she had written her niece, the Tsarina Alexandra, and advised her to back away from Rasputin. Was there any reaction by the Princess to the deaths of that family? Did she ever correspond with the abdicated King Edward VIII after he left the throne? The author made it pretty clear that correspondence with Kaiser William stopped with the start of hostilities in the First World War. So did this also happen with the abdicated King? It was very interesting to read how advanced the Princess was in terms of equal rights for women. I do not regret the time I spent reading this book, but I do think it could have been much better.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    Princess Louise was Queen Victoria's 6th daughter. Shrouded in secrecy and largely unknown, Lucinda Hawksley wrote this book in an attempt to shed light on this mysterious figure. Breaking through some of the veils of secrecy surrounding Louise, Lucida introduces us to a woman before her time (which is part of the problem evidently). She was her own person, and Queen Victoria found her hard to control as she balked at being told what to do. That's hardly fitting for a Princess of course. To top i Princess Louise was Queen Victoria's 6th daughter. Shrouded in secrecy and largely unknown, Lucinda Hawksley wrote this book in an attempt to shed light on this mysterious figure. Breaking through some of the veils of secrecy surrounding Louise, Lucida introduces us to a woman before her time (which is part of the problem evidently). She was her own person, and Queen Victoria found her hard to control as she balked at being told what to do. That's hardly fitting for a Princess of course. To top it off, Louise was an artist, namely a painter and a sculptor. In keeping with the times, she wanted to include sculptures of the male form, and you can only imagine the Queen's reaction to that. However, she won the battle with the Queen when it came to her desire to attend art school. As such, history records her as the first royal to attend (gasp) a public institution of learning. Much to the Queen's dismay, her daughter was on the front line for women's rights, and steadfastly stood by her brothers. As if all the above isn't enough to send the Queen into vapors, Louise's love life certainly made a good try at it. There were constant rumors of many trysts, including (but never proven) an affair with her brother-in-law. Eventually (another audible gasp!) Louise married a commoner. In reading this well-researched biography, I learned a lot about not only Louise, but about Queen Victoria, much of which is shielded or conveniently not mentioned in other books.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    While touring Stirling Castle a few years ago, I saw a painting of a beautiful young woman and was surprised to learn she was one of the daughters of Queen Victoria. I felt strangely drawn to her and wanted to know more about her. I finally got around to reading this book and became more and more intrigued as I read her story. As compelling as what we know about her is, what we don't know about her seems to drive the story. Why are her files closed? It's 2016 for goodness sakes! IF she had a chi While touring Stirling Castle a few years ago, I saw a painting of a beautiful young woman and was surprised to learn she was one of the daughters of Queen Victoria. I felt strangely drawn to her and wanted to know more about her. I finally got around to reading this book and became more and more intrigued as I read her story. As compelling as what we know about her is, what we don't know about her seems to drive the story. Why are her files closed? It's 2016 for goodness sakes! IF she had a child out of wedlock, IF she had affairs, what's the big deal? (The coverup adds credence to the rumors, in my opinion.) All of her accomplishments at a time when women were second second class citizens (even if Royal) should be honored. She did so much for others and was a talented artist who lead a remarkable life. Although the book repeats itself too often, I thought it was a fascinating story. Why is it that if a man is involved in a scandal, it's a footnote in his history? Why is it that If there's even a hint of scandal about a woman, it's THE main story? Princess Louise deserves to be remembered by what we DO know about her. I've always thought the Royals lead incredible lives, but they also work very hard. Louise was beloved by the public, which says a lot.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura Lee

    Started to say book was three and a half but as I was writing I realized the book was much better than that. I have read this author before and enjoyed her other book very much. She is excellent non fiction author. I think though the way she reads she'd be excellent at fiction as well. Interestingly enough she is the great great great granddaughter of Charles Dickens. Princess Louise was a very interesting woman. She was a suffragette who had to pretty much hide it because of her mother, she was Started to say book was three and a half but as I was writing I realized the book was much better than that. I have read this author before and enjoyed her other book very much. She is excellent non fiction author. I think though the way she reads she'd be excellent at fiction as well. Interestingly enough she is the great great great granddaughter of Charles Dickens. Princess Louise was a very interesting woman. She was a suffragette who had to pretty much hide it because of her mother, she was a wonderful artist that hardly anyone gave enough credit to. She was ahead of her time and probably would have done much more if not held back by Queen Victoria. She gave birth to a baby out of wedlock. She suffered physical as well as emotional ailments in her older years but was always a gracious lady. There wasn't much bad said about her. Her nieces and nephews loved her very much and Louise loved children. Giving up her child must have been very hard for her. I enjoyed the book very much. I am a big biography reader and this hit the spot!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know anything about Princess Louise or her connections with the art world, but now I find myself saying to people 'Did you know Queen Victoria's daughter .....' It's amazing that so many archives are missing or closed in relation to Louise, surely it was so long ago and as Hawksley herself admits, so few people have heard of her, that whatever is being hidden will not be the scandle the Royal household expects it to be? My only problem with the book, as Penny I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know anything about Princess Louise or her connections with the art world, but now I find myself saying to people 'Did you know Queen Victoria's daughter .....' It's amazing that so many archives are missing or closed in relation to Louise, surely it was so long ago and as Hawksley herself admits, so few people have heard of her, that whatever is being hidden will not be the scandle the Royal household expects it to be? My only problem with the book, as Penny mentioned in her review, is that quite a lot of it seems asumed. I was also dissapointed with the ending. So much was said about the death's of Louise's friends and relations that I feel her own death was glossed over, I'm not even sure why she died? This book is a fascinating insight into one of Britains most interesting Royals, and most adventurous women of the 19th century.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I had been waiting to read The Mystery of Princess Louise for quite some time- I was never interested enough to pay $40 for the hardcover but luckily I spotted the trade paperback. Hawksley has a fairly rambling tone, it detracts some from a very interesting Louise. Hawksley has organised this as a series of short vignettes; in some ways, it is easier to digest but in others harder to see coherency. She was limited by a lack of available sources, but she doesn't outright acknowledge it. Still, L I had been waiting to read The Mystery of Princess Louise for quite some time- I was never interested enough to pay $40 for the hardcover but luckily I spotted the trade paperback. Hawksley has a fairly rambling tone, it detracts some from a very interesting Louise. Hawksley has organised this as a series of short vignettes; in some ways, it is easier to digest but in others harder to see coherency. She was limited by a lack of available sources, but she doesn't outright acknowledge it. Still, Louise is a fascinating figure, and it was particularly enjoyable to read this while in London! Also, once again we see that Queen Victoria was a huge jerk.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Johnston

    This was a really good, really interesting book. I knew absolutely nothing about Princess Louise in advance and the book is very accessible for those who know nothing about her. It is very well written, and the author explains any theories she may have with the use of supporting evidence and not just conjecture. Covers a significant period of time and three reigns of British history.Would definitely read more by this author.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan Liston

    All I really knew about Princess Louise was that she married some Scottish guy, lived in Canada and there is bunch of stuff there named after her, and she was a sculptor. But now I know a lot more. This is a decent straightforward biography and quite interesting, she lived a rather bohemian life for her position and time. (Did they really want to name the province of Alberta "Louise"?)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim hansen

    Very well written bio which explains why princess louise is such a mystery and continues to be as the book explains to readers. I do believe some of the questions that were covered more than likely are true stories.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Please see my review on my blogsite, http://kimberlyevemusings.blogspot.co... Please see my review on my blogsite, http://kimberlyevemusings.blogspot.co...

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