LONDON – There are very few known copies of this biography of Queen Victoria in existence, but what makes this presentation copy rarer still, is that it is filled with corrections, crossings out and angry comments written by the Queen’s own hand.


AGNES STRICKLAND, QUEEN VICTORIA FROM HER BIRTH TO HER BRIDAL, 1840. FIRST EDITION,
PRESENTATION COPY TO QUEEN VICTORIA, SUBSEQUENTLY EXTENSIVELY ANNOTATED BY THE
 QUEEN AND RETURNED TO THE AUTHOR. ESTIMATE: £10,000–15,000.

To mark the occasion of the Queen’s wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, publisher Henry Colburn commissioned Agnes Strickland, an established historian of the day, to write an account of the Queen’s life. However, when the work was duly presented to the Queen she was so irritated by the inaccuracies she found within, that she took a pen to the book, crossing sections out, annotating and correcting over 100 of its pages and adding comments such as, “not true”, “quite false” and “nonsense”. She was especially disdainful of the author’s tendency for exaggeration. A description of Princess Sophia Matilda (Victoria’s aunt) as “beautiful as an angel, and graceful as a nymph, the very beau ideal of a royal lady...” is dismissed as simply “absurd”, and Strickland's imagined childhood meetings between Albert and Victoria attracted repeated correction.


A SAMPLE OF THE MANY ANNOTATIONS LEFT BY QUEEN VICTORIA IN AGNES STRICKLAND’S BIOGRAPHY, QUEEN VICTORIA FROM HER BIRTH TO HER BRIDAL.

Victoria then returned the book to Agnes Strickland, who was so mortified by the offence the publication had caused that she and Colborn had the remaining copies pulped, and wherever Miss Stricland was able to, she bought and destroyed those copies already in circulation. This means this is one of the very few surviving copies.

The book remained so infamous within the royal family that in 1932, nearly 100 years later, George V contacted Strickland’s descendants with a request to read this work which had so enraged his grandmother.

It is being offered from a library of over 100 first-edition books, all containing inscriptions form their authors, collected over 40 years by an English bibliophile.

書香: 英國古籍收藏第五部分

24 November 2015 | London