This lively historical memoir was written by a fascinating, intelligent, and strong figure who was related to most of the royal houses of Europe. Ward has succeeded marvelously in bringing Sophia of Hanover to life for a modern audience. Readers will be delighted to discover the wit, critical spirit, and storytelling skill of this woman who inhabited and visited many seventeenth-century courts and knew how to write a compelling narrative of her world.
Professor of French, Boston University
Granddaughter of James I of England, Sophia (1630–1714) began life a penniless princess in exile. She ended it as electress dowager of Hanover, an emerging European power. Had she lived two months longer, she would have succeeded to the British crown before her son, George I. In keeping with Sophia’s reputation as the era’s “most entertaining woman,” her memoirs, which she wrote in French, paint a captivating and often humorous portrait of her life as one of Europe’s preeminent noblewomen and celebrities. They also recall, with insight and verve, her interactions with leading men and ladies (Charles II, Louis XIV, Queen Christina of Sweden) and long-forgotten bit players (cavaliers, concubines, clerics, and quacks). The memoirs, which recount the first fifty years of Sophia’s life, appear here in English for the first time in their entirety. Their publication in this series is particularly timely, as it coincides with the three hundredth anniversary of the Hanoverian succession (2014).
SEAN WARD (Ph.D., Stanford University, 1998) is a freelance writer and translator. His scholarly articles have appeared in The Seventeenth Century, Seventeenth-Century French Studies, and Jahrbuch des Heidelberger Geschichtsvereins. In addition, he co-edited New Essays on the Origin of Language (De Gruyter Mouton, 2001) and contributed entries on medieval Latin poetry and drama to A New History of German Literature (Harvard University Press, 2004).
The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series 25
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