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The Queen Mother: The Official Biography Paperback – November 16, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
With unrestricted access to the queen mother's personal papers, letters and diaries, this respectful, mostly uncritical biography by veteran journalist Shawcross (Sideshow) focuses on the courtship of Elizabeth (1900–2002), the daughter of a Scottish earl, by the future King George VI; the shocking abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson; and WWII, when Elizabeth's narrow escape from a bomb that hit Buckingham Palace helped her commiserate with her subjects during the blitz. Throughout, the queen mother is depicted as vivacious, charming, devout and dutiful, a dedicated protector of the arts if not an intellectual, and socially conservative. Shawcross repeatedly pulls his punches when it comes to revealing the workings of Elizabeth's heart, particularly her anguish over her nemesis, Wallis Simpson, and over her role in aborting her daughter Princess Margaret's romance with the married courtier Peter Townsend. The dearth of information on the queen mother's relationship with the late Princess Diana is particularly egregious. Although readers sense some of the parade of people who crossed her path, the royal engagements that filled her calendar and the pivotal historical events that shaped her life, Shawcross delivers a disappointingly bland celebration of the queen mother. 32 pages of photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Fascinating . . . Anglophiles and lovers of the crown will relish every morsel." —USA Today
“A totally absorbing and highly readable account of a remarkable life. . . . Shawcross’s book is genuinely revelatory." —The Times (London)
“Remarkable." —Los Angeles Times
“Lively and elegantly written. . . . A rich portrait." —The Economist
“Splendid. . . . An entertaining page-turner. . . . This masterly biography reveals a character whose charm was matched by courage, optimism, a strong sense of duty and a liking for fun. . . . A wonderful book, authoritative, frank and entertaining. It sets new standards for royal biography. . . . Anyone who finds royal biographies dull and dutiful is in for a surprise." —The Daily Telegraph (London)
“A portrait of a remarkable life lived in step with a century of sweeping change." —Bloomberg News
“A colossal book about a colossal life, a spectacular journey across the entire 20th Century through the eyes of a thoughtful woman who took the hand of a shy royal understudy and was propelled through modern history." —Daily Mail (London)
“A behind-the-scenes glimpse at the Royal Family. . . . Fascinating reading. . . . Shawcross has written a remarkable book." —Tucson Citizen
“[Written] with unprecedented access to the private papers of the queen mother. . . . Her life is seen here as a mirror of the 20th century." —New York Post “Required Reading”
“Shawcross has been given access to the Royal Archives and they have yielded a rich harvest. . . . [There is an] immense amount of new material here. . . . He is to be congratulated for selecting so many juicy tidbits." —A. N. Wilson, Daily Mail (London)
“Engaging. . . . Colorful. . . . Delightful as well as dignified." —The Washington Times
“The correspondence in [The Queen Mother] is illuminating for both royal watchers and historians. . . . Divulges the Queen Mother’s opinions on topics ranging from feminism to homeopathy." —The Associated Press
“Impressively researched. . . . Shawcross avoids the traps [of] hagiography. . . . He succeeds in the difficult task of keeping his subject resolutely centre-stage in an elegant account." —The Independent (London)
“Shawcross’s journalistic skills are evident in the innumerable dabs of pointilliste detail. . . . There are many unexpected vignettes. . . . He serves his subject well." —Sunday Telegraph (London)
“Offers new and fascinating insights into the woman behind the pearls and pastel dresses." —Mail on Sunday
Top customer reviews
I was lucky to find a copy for sale that mentioned "hard back" and was the original British version. It's a beautiful, interesting book that would be a great read for any anglophile.
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was born in August, 1900, the daughter of a wealthy family of Scots and English nobility. The ninth of ten children, she had a happy childhood unburdened by too much education, did nursing in World War I, and eventually made her debut with the prospect of making a brilliant match. She attracted one of the most brilliant names available, Prince Albert Duke of York, second son of King George V. After refusing him several times she agreed to marry him in 1923. She became an early royal superstar, beloved by the British for her charm and good humor. Her awkward, stammering husband gained new confidence with her help, and when his older brother abdicated in 1936, he was able, with the support of his wife, to ascend the throne and perform admirably as King George VI through World War II. After the King's death in 1952 the Queen Mother lived another fifty years, becoming an ever more greatly beloved matriarch with her bright smile, sparkling jewels, and elegant and befeathered wardrobe.
Shawcross does an admirable job detailing the Queen Mother's life, producing a detailed, almost day to day chronicle. In so doing he also provides a fairly good political history of Britain during the twentieth century albeit through the eyes of a woman whose upper class antecedents and milieu hardly made her sympathetic to many of the social reforms enacted during her lifetime. Her personal relationships with her husband, daughters, and grandchildren are also well but respectfully covered.
This is a well written biography with impeccable scholarship. If it does not satisfy the appetites of those who wish only to read scandal, it nevertheless will please those who remember the Queen Mother as a strong personality who helped guide her country and her family through some of their greatest and darkest hours.