The much overlooked life story of England’s early eighteenth century monarch Queen Anne is explored in the biography Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset. This queen, who was the last of the Stuart monarchs, reigned during a very turbulent time, coming to the throne in the midst of a revolution which deposed her father James II. The fact that she was already plagued by chronic health problems when she was coronated at the age of 37 makes her accomplishments, such as forging the kingdom of Great Britain by uniting the realms of England and Scotland, that much more impressive.
However, as the title suggests, this book is not just focused on matters of state. The plentiful drama of Anne’s personal life is also uncovered. The heartbreak of seventeen miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births, resulting in no direct heir upon her death, is discussed. Most interestingly the author delves into the queen’s passionate love life including a possible lesbian relationship with the tempestuous Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, who spread scandalous gossip about the queen’s sexuality when she was replaced as Anne’s favorite by Abigail Masham.
This real-life story, which reads like a royal soap opera, is definitely one of the more absorbing tales of the British monarchy and it is surprising that this reign, filled with such triumph, tragedy and colorful events, hasn’t received more attention over the years.
The award-winning Anne Somerset is the author of several biographies on historic figures including the book Elizabeth I.