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Bibliophile price: £6.00
In his foreword, A.N. Wilson gratefully thanks the Her Majesty the Queen for her consent to the writing of this book and for full access to the Royal Archives - he also tells of how, whilst researching, he encountered our illustrious patron, the Duke of Edinburgh, who told him with characteristic candour, "Prince Albert had a very short life, so you can write a very short book". In modern terms Albert's life (1819-61) was indeed short, but in the 21 years that he was beside the wife seen as the embodiment of the age, Wilson argues it was Albert who was at the vanguard of Victorian Britain's transformation into the extraordinary centre of political, industrial, technological, scientific and intellectual advancement it became. Far more than a product of his age, Albert - a composer, engineer, soldier, politician, linguist and bibliophile - is more deserving of the description "genius" than any other royal. In fact, contends the author, it is impossible to understand 19th century Britain without knowing the story of this visionary individual. In his sweeping biography he shows that there was little of Britain's national life that Albert did not touch, finding time to father the royal dynasties of Germany, Russia, Spain and Bulgaria as well! He and Victoria pioneered the concept of the modern constitutional monarchy and when made Chancellor of Cambridge University in his late 20s, a title assumed to be entirely honorary, he proposed a reorganisation of British higher education that would make it possible to study science, languages and modern history at our universities, a revolution that made Britain the centre of world learning. Wilson's meticulous scrutiny of Albert's immense correspondence offers many fascinating and previously unknown details about the man, his wife and the time and gives his subject a reverence and recognition that is long overdue. A superb biography from a master biographer, beautifully illus with 16 pages of colour and b/w plates, 448pp, first US edition of 2019. "Waspish AN Wilson delights in stinging comfortable historical prejudices... Albert was a man of culture and intelligence who saved the British monarchy."? The Times, Book of the Year.

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