A young girl with blonde ringlets and a ribboned dress bitterly embraces her father, begging him not to leave her alone at bedtime. "Dear Alice," he consoles her, "it is necessary for you to go my love, so go to bed my dear, and be ready for me tomorrow morning."
Her resentment comes from her impending visit to a school, for which she's been recommended for her "great respectability, amiability and sweetness of temper." If you think this sounds like a sweetly stodgy British fairy tale, you wouldn't be far off -- it is a quaint kid's book written by Queen Victoria, when she herself was a child.
Penned and illustrated in a little red notebook, it's being published as a storybook with updated and restored versions of the original drawings. The story has all the plot, intrigue, and moral lessons of contemporary children's literature, and follows its protagonist, Alice Laselles, on an adventure to solve the mystery of "who put the cat in Miss Duncombe's kitchen."
Peculiar and charming, in a meticulously drawn, Wes Anderson-like manner, the book has full-page illustrations of ornate outfits from Queen Victoria's era, and curious insights into the psyche of a historic young royal.
Images courtesy of Royal Collection Trust and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015.