Edward VII (Magill's Literary Annual 1980)
Currently head of Eton School’s Department of History and the author of such well-received studies as The Royal George: The Life of H. R. H. Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, 1819-1904 and Infamous Victorians, Giles St. Aubyn lends credence to the long-held popular notion that England’s Edward VII was a large-souled monarch who ably led his nation and Commonwealth of colonized nations into the twentieth century. Certainly it cannot be said that St. Aubyn hides his enthusiasm for King “Bertie,” whom he regards much as the anonymous balladeer did who called him “a King . . . from head to sole,/Loved by his people one and all.”
Even the most cursory glance at the author’s eighteen-page selected bibliography will convince the reader that St. Aubyn knows his subject in considerable depth. His biography of Edward is authoritative without being dull and analytical without being nitpicking. In it, he proves that Edward summoned sufficient courage and insight to rid himself of those suffocating constrictions of spirit foisted on him by his father, Prince Albert, and mother, Queen Victoria. Instead of turning out to be the prig his father hoped he would be, he became a pleasure-seeker; rather than a solemn utterer of pieties, he became an ebullient, charming statesman; rather than a Germany worshiper, he preferred France; and rather than be a stay-at-home like his mother, he cultivated a love of travel and outdoor life. As a result,...
(The entire section is 2111 words.)
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