Queen Victoria's hand-annotated biography to sell at Sotheby's

Victorian Reader

Victorian Reader

2015-10-26 11:04:27

An 1840 biography of Queen Victoria featuring the monarch's handwritten corrections will cross the block at Sotheby's next month.

The book 'Queen Victoria From Her Birth To Her Bridal' was written by the noted historian Agnes Strickland, to commemorate Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert. However, the Queen was highly displeased with the book's inaccuracies and sent her copy back to the author – complete with more than 100 pages covered in corrections and criticism.

Although just 21 years old, Victoria was clearly not a person to suffer fools gladly. The annotated copy of the biography shows that she went through the book paragraph by paragraph, often crossing out entire sections or marking them as "not true", "quite false", "absurd" and "nonsense".

The Queen was particularly annoyed by what she saw as frequent exaggerations and fabrications, despite the book's highly flattering tone. It demonstrates her confidence and 'no nonsense' attitude at such a young age, which would serve her well as one of history's longest-serving monarchs.

Once the Queen had finished tearing the work to shreds, she returned her copy to the mortified author. Strickland was so ashamed that her book had caused the Queen offence, she had all remaining copies immediately pulped. According to the account of her sister Jane, "The sale was stopped and where ever Miss Strickland was able to do so, she bought in those already out and destroyed them”.

Strickland's actions mean that today, any copies of the book are considered rare by collectors. This unique copy, featuring the Queen's own annotations which led Strickland to destroy her own work, is expected to sell for $10,000-$15,000.

The book will be offered as part of the Sotheby's Library of an English Bibliophile sale, which takes place in London on November 24. The collection includes more than 100 first-edition books featuring inscriptions from their authors, and is valued at more than £5 million.

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