A children’s story written by Queen Victoria when she was just 10 years old is to be published for the first time in June 2015.
The short story was penned by the future monarch and tells the story of a 12-year-old girl, Alice Laselles, who was sent away to boarding school after her mother died and her father remarried.
Alice befriends a host of characters, including a ‘poor little French orphan’ who has been half-blinded by small pox, and is falsely accused of smuggling a cat into the school but clears her name and eventually triumphs as ‘one of the best learners in the school’.
Princess Victoria’s story was written in her ‘Composition’ notebook as part of her studies with her governess, Baroness Louise Lehzen, and kept in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle.
It bore the inscription: ‘To my dear Mamma, this my first attempt at composition is affectionately and dutifully inscribed by her affectionate daughter, Victoria.’In one passage, where Alice is told she is to be sent to boarding school, Victoria wrote: ‘”Oh do not send me away dear Pappa”, exclaimed Alice Laselles, as she threw her arms around her Pappa’s neck; “don’t send me away, O let me stay with you.” And she sobbed bitterly.’
The tale will be published in June as ‘The Adventures of Alice Laselles by Alexandrina Victoria, Aged 10 and ¾’.
Alexandrina was the young princess’ first name but she became known as Victoria, her second name, when she was still a child.
The story was originally called The School, until Victoria decided to name it after her leading character.
Alice’s schoolmates include Barbara, the clever daughter of a wealthy banker, whose pride “spoiled her otherwise fine expression”; Ernestine Duval, a “poor little French orphan” who had suffered from “the small pox, by which malady she had lost one eye”; and Diana O’Reilly, who was raised by a nurse after the death of her mother, and dispatched to Mrs Duncombe’s when her father returned from India after 10 years to find a “tall girl of a most uncouth appearance” who spoke in an “unintelligible” brogue.
Pic credits: Queen Victoria’s paper dolls (Royal Archives/Her Majesty Queen/PA Wire)
The book has been illustrated with new pictures which feature her collection of paper dolls, which she made with her governess at Kensington Palace.
Jacqueline Wilson, author of the popular Tracy Beaker children’s books, praised the future monarch’s imagination and writing style. In her introduction to the book, she said: ‘If Victoria hadn’t been destined to be Queen, I think she might have made a remarkable novelist.’
Victoria’s adult journals were published during her lifetime but it is the first time her childhood story has been made public. The book will be published by the Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity.