Queen Victoria was one of the most complex cultural productions of her age. In Royal Representations, Margaret Homans investigates the meanings Victoria held for her times, Victoria’s own contributions to Victorian writing and art, and the cultural mechanisms through which her influence was felt.
Arguing that being, seeming, and appearing were crucial to Victoria’s “rule,” Homans explores the variability of Victoria’s agency and of its representations using a wide array of literary, historical, and visual sources. Along the way she shows how Victoria provided a deeply equivocal model for women’s powers in and out of marriage, how Victoria’s dramatic public withdrawal after Albert’s death helped to ease the monarchy’s transition to an entirely symbolic role, and how Victoria’s literary self-representations influenced debates over political self-representation.
Homans considers versions of Victoria in the work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, John Ruskin, Margaret Oliphant, Lewis Carroll, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Julia Margaret Cameron.