Queen Victoria’s Children’s Book To Be Published

To my dear Mamma. This, my first attempt at composition, is affectionately and dutifully inscribed by her affectionate daughter, Victoria.

By the time she died in 1901, Queen Victoria had survived five assassination attempts, given birth to nine children, and reined for 64 years, the longest of any British monarch in history. But by the time she turned 11, she had already written a children’s book. And on June 22, The Adventures of Alice Laselles will hit bookshelves — nearly 200 years after it was written.

In Alice, the beribboned protagonist is sent away to boarding school, and must solve the mystery of “who put the cat in Miss Dunscombe’s kitchen.” Along the way she encounters a “poor little French orphan,” the daughter of a rich London banker, and lots of pastel. The book includes Victoria’s illustrations, restored and updated (and a little bit eerie).

Written for a homework assignment, the book offers a window into the mind of an assiduous future royal who “studied with private tutors and spent her free time with her dolls and her governess.” A bit bleak, perhaps, but conducive to precocity. And after two centuries spent chilling in the royal archives at Windsor, Alice will surely be thrilled to see the light day.

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