Bertie. A Life of Edward VII by Jane Ridley

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BertieJust finished Bertie: A Life of Edward VII.  Phew!  I enjoyed it, mostly.  Full of salacious adulterers and insights into European politics.

Reviewed in The Guardian.  “This book started out, Ridley tells us, as a short study of Bertie’s relations with the many women in his life (including of course his mother). It turned into something more comprehensive; but the women are still there, giving a crucial perspective to a man and a reign to which they are usually seen as frivolous adjuncts.”

Reviewed in The Telegraph (UK)  “With this richly detailed, impeccably researched book, written with a light touch and full of human sympathy, Ridley has achieved a landmark royal biography, one without a trace of sycophancy, which strips away the dull film of received ideas and recycled gossip and presents a flawed but decent man who did his job with all his heart.”

Reviewed in The Spectator  “This book deserves to be named in the same breath as those two great classics of royal biography, Roger Fulford’s Royal Dukes and James Pope-Hennessy’s Queen Mary. It shares with those two masterpieces the double advantage of being profoundly learned and a cracking good read. There is scarcely a paragraph of Bertie which does not contain new material, most of it culled from the Royal Archives, but also from a wide variety of other sources, including the diaries — which Jane Ridley discovered in the Royal College of Physicians — of Bertie’s German medic, Dr Sieveking.  Its most affecting passages — and there are many — derive their power from the accumulation of carefully gathered detail.”

Reviewed in the New York Times  “The House of Hanover feared two things: madness and republicanism. The terrible example of mad King George III haunted the family line. When Bertie was a child, the country’s leading phrenologist was consulted and found the future monarch’s skull “feeble and abnormal.” His mother, throughout her life, believed he had a “small empty brain.””

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