Bertie : A Life of Edward VII
This is the Sunday Times bestseller shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize. Edward VII, who gave his name to the Edwardian era but was always known as Bertie, was fifty-nine when he finally came to power and ushered out the Victorian age. The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Bertie was bullied by both his parents.
Denied any proper responsibilities, the heir to the throne spent his time eating (which earned him the nickname 'Tum Tum'), pursuing women (which Queen Victoria held to be the reason for Albert's early demise), gambling, going to house parties and race meetings, and shooting pheasants. His arranged marriage to the stunning Danish princess Alexandra gave him access to the European dynastic network; but his name was linked with many beauties, including Lillie Langtry and Winston Churchill's mother. This magnificent new biography provides new insight into the playboy prince while painting a vivid portrait of the age in all its excess and eccentricity.
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Staff Reviews Jane Ridley's life of Edward VII is a tremendously absorbing read. At nearly six hundred pages there is a wealth of detail in here but her style makes the pages fly past. It is meticulously researched. Jane Ridley had access to the Royal Archives including medical records for Edward and his family which have not been seen before and she has taken all this material and crafted it into a tremendously readable book about a complex and flawed man.
Edward is always seen as the playboy Prince known for his affairs, the scandals and the Eat Drink and be Merry lifestyle. This book examines this and you are not short-changed on gossip and speculation, always noted as such. Jane has researched letters and diaries and talked to descendents of Edward and his set to put together a picture of the upper-class Edwardian life with its gambling scandals and house party corridor creeping which meshes well with the story we know. What makes this book special is going beyond this to look at the whole story. Edward the young boy shut out from his parents grand passion, poorly educated, underestimated and overlooked, not clever but not an ass and with compassion and a heart, not given a real role in the monarchy he made the pursuit of pleasure his career. This was the tragedy that led him to say on ascending to the throne "This has come too late". Jane Ridley shows us both his life as lived and the man and the king Edward VII could have been. It is well known under Victoria the image of the Royal Family as a role model was developed what is less well know is how Edward built the role of the Royals as charitable benefactors and espousers of causes.
For lovers of biographies or those interested in the turn of the twentieth century this is an absolute must-have.
Sally Hughes Assist ant Retail Manager