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Queen Victoria

Gender and Empire

Susan Kingsley Kent

Publication Date - August 2015

ISBN: 9780190250003

232 pages
5 x 8 inches

In Stock

Profiles the complex life of Britain's most famous monarch


Part of The World in a Life series, this brief, inexpensive text provides insight into the life of Queen Victoria. As one of the longest reigning monarchs in British history, Queen Victoria gave her name to an age filled with enormous possibilities and perplexing contradictions. At the time of Victoria's birth, Britain ruled over what was fast becoming the greatest empire in the world, containing millions of non-white, non-Christian peoples. During her childhood and youth, the kingdom itself became transformed from one dominated by landed aristocrats to one governed according to the principles of bourgeois liberalism. The royal family served as the most visible symbol of domesticity, while at the same time Victoria's very position as queen defied the ideology of separate spheres upon which domesticity rested. Victoria, the ruler of millions of people, opposed women participating in politics or public life. She believed women's suffrage to be a "wicked folly" and a violation of God's laws. She never gave up that belief, even as the fledging feminist movement of mid-century matured and grew to the size of a mass movement by the end of the century. And yet she reigned, with little thought of the contradictions that entailed.

We live in a global age where big concepts like "globalization" often tempt us to forget the personal side of the past. The titles in The World in a Life series aim to revive these meaningful lives. Each one shows us what it was like to live on a world historical stage. Brief, inexpensive, and thematic, each book can be read in a week, fit within a wide range of curricula, and shed insight into a particular place or time. Four to six short primary sources at the end of each volume sharpen the reader's view of an individual's impact on world history.

About the Author(s)

Susan Kingsley Kent is Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder.


"[Kent] provides students with a rich and complicated narrative that places the nineteenth-century British monarch at the center of a complex web of debates about gender expectations and empire Susan Kingsley Kent has written a short, comprehensive, and engaging biography. She neatly situates her subject at the intersection of multiple debates about the British past. The prose is focused, crisp, and easy to read. The book is organized around a linear structure that strikes a nice balance between the passage of time and the study of different historical continuities and changes. The analysis is deft and helps explain a series of clearly signposted arguments. Queen Victoria has a place in any undergraduate class studying British, European, or imperial history. It opens up several important historical debates that, while familiar to historians, are new to the intended audience-students."--H-Net

"The thematic approach to Victoria's life is well conceived and the chapters cover an impressive range of topics. Susan Kent's attempt to dispel the various myths about Victoria makes this title appealing as an undergraduate text."-David Campion, Lewis and Clark College

"Most universities are encouraging a more thematic approach to history. I like how Queen Victoria covers various types of history, since survey courses get many different students with many different interests."--Nicole Staron, Pennsylvania College of Technology

Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations
    List of Maps
    About the Author
    Chapter 1: Childhood, 1819-1837: Transition to a New Social and Political Order
    Chapter 2: Queen, Wife, Mother: Separate Sphere Ideology and the Paradox of Female Monarchy, 1840-61
    Chapter 3: Co-Rulers, 1842-1861: Changing Ideologies of Gender and Race
    Chapter 4: The Widowed Queen, 1861-72
    Chapter 5: Re-Emergence, 1873-1887: New Imperialism and New Challenges to Separate Spheres
    Chapter 6: The Height of Victoria's Reign, 1887-1901: Gender, Jubilees, and Colonial Wars
    Chapter 7: The Legacy of the Late Queen
    Primary Source Excerpts and Study Questions
    Further Reading

Featured Resources

For more information on "The World in a Life" series, please visit: https://global.oup.com/ushe/series/5906277/?cc=gb&lang=en.

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