Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why I Love Researching the Victorian Royals of England by Mary Hart Perry

I’m a people person. I’ve always been fascinated with the ways in which individual members of families, throughout history, have interacted, sometimes in healthy and supportive ways…and other times in destructive ways. Why do I love looking back in time at family groups? It struck me, even before I started doing research for my most recent novel, The Wild Princess, that our families today are not so very different from people who were related to each other, often living together, in the past.

While focusing on the royal offspring of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this tendency to help or hurt those closest to us became shockingly evident. Of the nine children this royal couple produced, five princesses and four princes, there was rich and varied mix of personalities, good and bad. At times they came to each other’s aid and support. More often they seemed to work against each other, and the relationships became painful--much as in our own families in the 21st century. What family can claim that they never experience conflict?

For instance, Louise, the fourth princess, dreamt of becoming a professional artist. However, this was a time when girls simply weren’t educated in the same way as boys. Queen Victoria absolutely refused to allow her daughter to attend art school and mix with commoners. Her refusal to grant permission was shattering to Louise, who happened to be a very promising young artist. However, Louise being a very spirited young woman, persisted in arguing with her mother and pressing her case. She eventually won…but at high emotional cost to both herself and her mother.

Later in the queen’s life, Victoria determined that her youngest child, Princess Beatrice should remain unmarried, living with the queen as her constant companion until her death. That meant Beatrice likely would never have a family of her own. It was a sacrifice that Beatrice at first acquiesced to. Possibly because her mother kept her so much to herself she had become awkward in social situations and felt she was unappealing to men. It wasn’t until she met Henry Battenberg, at her niece’s wedding, that she regained her self-esteem enough to believe she might find a husband and marry. Victoria, however, stuck to her guns and refused to give her blessing. She went a step further, according to several accounts. Apparently she was so angry with her daughter for pressing the issue of the forbidden marriage that she refused to speak to Beatrice for months, insisting upon communicating with her only through written notes. Not only did Beatrice suffer the separation from her beloved Henry, she felt terribly distraught at the way her mother was treating her—after she’d been so loyal to the queen for so many years. Eventually, Beatrice and Henry did marry—but again, the emotional trauma within the family was immense.

I think about my own family and the families of my friends, and then about the people I love to read about from the past. One hundred years ago…three centuries ago…or even in antiquity. How little we’ve changed! We fall in love. We worry about each other. We support or try to interfere with each other’s dreams and destinies. The interactions are so complex; human nature is amazing. And that’s what I love about reading and writing about families throughout history. I feel so very close to these people, and I learn to care so very deeply for them, because they are just like us. My warmest wishes to you and your family…Mary Hart Perry


The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry is out now.

You can find out more about Mary and her book at her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.


  1. This book sounds really good. Great post!

  2. Kailana, I hope you get a chance to read it, and that you like it. And, Marg, thank you for inviting me to join you on your fascinating site! So much wonderful information here. Best wishes, Mary Hart Perry