Queen Victoria's Rebellious Daughter
Spirited biography and quest to unearth the secrets of Princess Louise - a royal desperate to escape her inheritance
‘Satisfyingly replete with eye-popping stories’ Observer
What was so dangerous about Queen Victoria’s artistic tempestuous sixth child, Princess Louise?
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 f from public view for years.
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 rumours of Louise’s colourful 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 to marry a commoner since the sixteenth century.
Spirited and lively, The Mystery of Princess Louise is richly packed with arguments, intrigues, scandals and secrets, and is a vivid portrait of a princess desperate to escape her inheritance.
“Satisfyingly replete with eye-popping stories of life at the various palaces”
Rachel Cooke, Observer
“The fullest biography yet of a princess who was friends with Josephine Butler, a feminist and advocate for the health of sex workers, well deserves its place on the shelf”
Lucy Worsley, Sunday Express
“Lively, engaging and buoyantly enthusiastic, Hawksley's gallant but necessarily speculative book should encourage the royal archivists to stop being so protective”
Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times
“I've always wanted to know more about Princess Louise... Biographies of Kate Perugini and Elizabeth Siddal – who moved in similar artistic circles – drew Hawksley to her. Court secrecy meant that resourcefulness was needed to write it”
Ruth Richardson, Times Higher Education
“Hawksley's entertaining and lengthy book gives a vivid insight into Victorian royal life and the repressions and sexual hypocrisies of those days”
Anthony Looch, UK Press Syndication
“Hawksley’s book is a Victorian Squidgygate and offers the same kind of guilty pleasures”
John Sutherland, The Times
“Full of glorious insight... This pacey exploration into “the real” Princess Louise will keep you hooked until the end”
Family Tree Magazine
“Spirited and lively, The Mystery of Princess Louise is richly packed with arguments, intrigues, scandals and secrets, and is a vivid portrait of a princess desperate to escape her inheritance”
“Gripping... An utterly absorbing read”
Elizabeth Fitzherbert, Lady
“Richly packed with arguments, intrigues, scandals and secrets.”
“Richly packed with arguments, intrigues, scandals and secrets”
“Hawksley’s biography of Victoria’s most artistic daughter is full of gaps that she attempts to fill, with delicious success”
Lesley McDowell, 4 stars, Independent on Sunday
“[A] well-researched portrait of an intriguing royal character”
Julia Richardson, Daily Mail
“A tantalising and well-told tale”
Marcus Field, Independent