Charles John Kean, was born at Waterford, the son of the actor Edmund Kean. After preparatory education at Worplesdon and at Greenford, near Harrow, he was sent to Eton College, where he remained three years. In 1827, he was offered a cadetship in the East India Company's service, which he was prepared to accept if his father would settle an income of £400 on his mother; the elder Kean refused to do this, his son determined to become an actor. He made his first appearance at Drury Lane on 1 October 1827 as Norval in Home's Douglas, but his continued failure to achieve popularity led him to leave London in the spring of 1828 for the provinces. In Glasgow, on 1 October in that year and son acted together in Arnold Payne's Brutus, the elder Kean in the title-part and his son as Titus. After a visit to the United States in 1830, where he was received with much favour, he appeared in 1833 at Covent Garden as "Sir Edmund Mortimer" in Colman's The Iron Chest, but his success was not pronounced enough to encourage him to remain in London as he had won a high position in the provinces.
In January 1838, however, he returned to Drury Lane, played Hamlet with a success which gave him a place among the principal tragedians of his time. He married the actress Ellen Tree on 25 January 1842, paid a second visit to America with her from 1845 to 1847. Returning to England, he entered on a successful engagement at the Haymarket Theatre, in 1850, with Robert Keeley, became lessee of the Princess's Theatre, London; the most noteworthy feature of his management was a series of gorgeous Shakespearean revivals that aimed for "authenticity". Kean mentored the young Ellen Terry in juvenile roles. In melodramatic parts such as the king in Dion Boucicault's adaptation of Casimir Delavigne's Louis XI, Louis and Fabian dei Franchi in Boucicault's adaptation of Dumas's The Corsican Brothers, his success was complete. In 1854 the writer Charles Reade created a play The Courier of Lyons for Kean to appear in, which became one of the most popular plays of the Victorian era. From his "tour round the world" Kean returned in 1866 in broken health, died in London on 22 January 1868 at the age of 57.
He is buried at Hampshire. His daughter Mary Maria Kean, married the eminent military surgeon, Surgeon general Cosmo Gordon Logie; the Life and Theatrical Times of Charles Kean, by John William Cole. Works by Charles Kean at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Charles John Kean at Internet Archive This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Kean, Edmund". Encyclopædia Britannica. 15. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 705–706
La sonnambula is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini set to an Italian libretto by Felice Romani, based on a scenario for a ballet-pantomime written by Eugène Scribe and choreographed by Jean-Pierre Aumer called La somnambule, ou L'arrivée d'un nouveau seigneur. The ballet had premiered in Paris in September 1827 at the height of a fashion for stage works incorporating somnambulism; the role of Amina was written for the soprano sfogato Giuditta Pasta and the tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini, but during Bellini's lifetime another soprano sfogato, Maria Malibran, was a notable exponent of the role. The first performance took place at the Teatro Carcano in Milan on 6 March 1831; the majority of twentieth-century recordings have been made with a soprano cast as Amina with added top-notes and other changes according to tradition, although it was released in soprano sfogato voice who sang soprano and contralto roles unmodified. The phrase Ah! Non credea mirarti / Sì presto estinto, o fiore from Amina's final aria is inscribed on Bellini's tomb in the Catania Cathedral in Sicily.
Returning to Milan after the I Capuleti e i Montecchi performances in March 1830, little occurred until the latter part of April when Bellini was able to negotiate a contracts with both the Milan house for the autumn of 1831 and another for the 1832 Carnival season at La Fenice in Venice. Writing to his uncle in Sicily, the composer reported that "I shall earn twice as much as if I had composed ". However, there was a contract for a second Milan house for the following winter season for as-yet an unnamed opera, but it had been agreed that Giuditta Pasta, who had achieved success in Milan in 1829 and 1830 appearing in several major operas, would be the principal artist. Bellini experienced the re-occurrence of an illness which had emerged in Venice due to pressure of work and the bad weather, which recurred after each opera; the gastro-enteric condition—which he described as "a tremendous inflammatory gastric bilious fever"— resulted in his being cared for by friends. It was not until the summer, when he went to stay near Lake Como, that the pressure to decide upon a subject for the following winter's opera became more urgent.
That Pasta owned a house near Como and would be staying there over the summer was the reason that Felice Romani traveled to meet both her and Bellini. By 15 July they had decided on a subject for early 1831, but it was uncertain as to whether Pasta was interested in singing a trousers role, that of the protagonist, Ernani, in an adaptation of Victor Hugo's Hernani set to music by Giuseppe Verdi in 1844. With both men having various other commitments, by the end of November 1830 nothing had been achieved in the way of writing either the libretto or the score of Ernani but, by January, the situation and the subject had changed. Bellini wrote that " is now writing La sonnambula, ossia I Due Fidanzati svezzeri.... It must go on stage on 20 February at the latest."That music which he was beginning to use for Ernani was transferred to Sonnambula is not in doubt, and, as Weinstein comments, "he was as ready as most other composers of his era to reuse in a new situation musical passages created for a different, earlier one".
During Bellini's lifetime another sfogato, Maria Malibran, was to become a notable exponent of the role of Amina. With its pastoral setting and story, La sonnambula was an immediate success and is still performed; the title role of Amina with its high tessitura is renowned for its difficulty, requiring a complete command of trills and florid technique, but it fitted Pasta's vocal capabilities, her soprano having been described as a soprano sfogato, one which designates a contralto, capable—by sheer industry or natural talent—of extending her upper range and being able to encompass the coloratura soprano tessitura. The opera's premiere performance took place on 6 March 1831, a little than the original date, its success was due to the differences between Romani's earlier libretti and this one, as well as "the accumulation of operatic experience which both and Romani had brought to its creation." Press reactions were universally positive, as was that of the Russian composer, Mikhail Glinka, who attended and wrote overwhelmingly enthusiastically: Pasta and Rubini sang with the most evident enthusiasm to support their favourite conductor.
After its premiere, the opera was performed in London on 28 July 1831 at the King’s Theatre and in New York on 13 November 1835 at the Park Theatre. Herbert Weinstock provides a comprehensive year-by-year listing of performances following the premiere and with some gaps, all the way up to 1900, it was a vehicle for showcasing Jenny Lind, Emma Albani and—in the early 20th century—for Lina Pagliughi and Toti Dal Monte. Weinstein's account of performances given charts those in the 20th century beginning from 1905. Stagings were presented as as every two years in one European or North American venue or another, they continued through the 1950s bel canto revivals up to the publication of his book in 1971; the opera was rescued from the ornamental excesses and misrepresentations more similar to the baroque style than the bel canto of Bellini when it was sung by Maria Callas in the now-famous 1955 production by Luchino Visconti at La Scala. Contributing to the revivals were Joan Sutherland's taking the role of Ami
Sir Henry Irving, born John Henry Brodribb, sometimes known as J. H. Irving, was an English stage actor in the Victorian era, known as an actor-manager because he took complete responsibility for season after season at the Lyceum Theatre, establishing himself and his company as representative of English classical theatre. In 1895 he became the first actor to be awarded a knighthood, indicating full acceptance into the higher circles of British society. Irving is acknowledged to be one of the inspirations for Count Dracula, the title character of the 1897 novel Dracula whose author, Bram Stoker, was business manager of the theatre. Irving was born to a working-class family in Keinton Mandeville in the county of Somerset. W. H. Davies, the celebrated poet, was a cousin. Irving spent his childhood living with Mrs Penberthy, at Halsetown in Cornwall, he competed in a recitation contest at a local Methodist chapel where he was bested by William Curnow the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He attended City Commercial School for two years before going to work in the office of a law firm at age 13.
When he saw Samuel Phelps play Hamlet soon after this, he sought lessons, letters of introduction, work in a theatre in Sunderland in 1856, labouring against great odds until his 1871 success in The Bells in London set him apart from all the rest. He married Florence O'Callaghan on 15 July 1869 at St. Marylebone, but his personal life took second place to his professional life. On opening night of The Bells, 25 November 1871, pregnant with their second child, criticised his profession: "Are you going on making a fool of yourself like this all your life?" Irving exited their carriage at Hyde Park Corner, walked off into the night, chose never to see her again. He maintained a discreet distance from his children as well, but became closer to them as they grew older. Florence Irving never divorced Irving, once he had been knighted she styled herself "Lady Irving", his elder son, Harry Brodribb Irving known as "H B Irving", became a famous actor and a theatre manager. His younger son, Laurence Irving, became a dramatist and drowned, with his wife, in the sinking of the Empress of Ireland.
H B married Dorothea Baird and they had a son, Laurence Irving, who became a well-known Hollywood art director and his grandfather's biographer. In November 1882 Irving became a Freemason, being initiated into the prestigious Jerusalem Lodge No 197 in London. In 1887 he became a founder member and first Treasurer of the Savage Club Lodge No 2190, a Lodge associated with London's Savage Club, he took over the management of the Lyceum Theatre and brought actress Ellen Terry into partnership with him as Ophelia to his Hamlet, Lady Macbeth to his Macbeth, Portia to his Shylock, Beatrice to his Benedick, etc. Before joining the Lyceum, Terry had fled her first marriage and conceived two out-of-wedlock children with bohemian artist Godwin, but regardless of how much and how her behavior defied the strict morality expected by her Victorian audiences, she somehow remained popular, it could be said that Irving found his family in his professional company, which included his ardent supporter and manager Bram Stoker and Terry's two illegitimate children and Edy.
Whether Irving's long, spectacularly successful relationship with leading lady Ellen Terry was romantic as well as professional has been the subject of much historical speculation. Most of their correspondence was burned by her descendants. According to Michael Holroyd's book about Irving and Terry, A Strange Eventful History: Years when Irving was dead, Marguerite Steen asked Ellen whether she had been Irving's lover, she promptly answered:'Of course I was. We were in love for a while.' But at earlier periods in her life, when there were more people around to be offended, she said contradictory things. Terry's son Teddy known as Edward Gordon Craig, spent much of his childhood indulged by Irving backstage at the Lyceum. Craig, who came to be regarded as something of a visionary for the theatre of the future, wrote an vivid, book-length tribute to Irving. George Bernard Shaw, at the time a theatre critic, jealous of Irving's connection to Ellen Terry, conceded Irving's genius after Irving died.
After a few years' schooling while living at Halsetown, near St Ives, Irving became a clerk to a firm of East India merchants in London, but he soon gave up a commercial career for acting. On 29 September 1856 he made his first appearance at Sunderland as Gaston, Duke of Orleans, in Bulwer Lytton's play, billed as Henry Irving; this name he assumed by royal licence. When the inexperienced Irving got stage fright and was hissed off the stage the actor Samuel Johnson was among those who supported him with practical advice. In life Irving gave them all regular work when he formed his own Company at the Lyceum Theatre. For 10 years, he went through an arduous training in various stock companies in Scotland and the north of England, taking more than 500 parts, his delineations of the various characters were admirably graphic, met with repeated rounds of applause. Possesed of a fine voice, which he modulated with great taste and judgment, he was able to mark the depth or frivolity of the character he was representing with remarkable facility.
He gained recognition by degr
The word diorama can either refer to a 19th-century mobile theatre device, or, in modern usage, a three-dimensional full-size or miniature model, sometimes enclosed in a glass showcase for a museum. Dioramas are built by hobbyists as part of related hobbies such as military vehicle modeling, miniature figure modeling, or aircraft modeling; the word "diorama" originated in 1823 as a type of picture-viewing device, from the French in 1822. The word means "through that, seen", from the Greek di- "through" + orama "that, seen, a sight"; the diorama was invented by Louis Daguerre and Charles Marie Bouton, first exhibited in Paris in July 1822 and in London on September 29, 1823. The meaning "small-scale replica of a scene, etc." is from 1902. Daguerre's and Bouton's diorama consisted of a piece of material painted on both sides; when illuminated from the front, the scene would be shown in one state and by switching to illumination from behind another phase or aspect would be seen. Scenes in daylight changed to moonlight, a train travelling on a track would crash, or an earthquake would be shown in before and after pictures.
The current, popular understanding of the term "diorama" denotes a three-dimensional, full-size replica or scale model of a landscape showing historical events, nature scenes or cityscapes, for purposes of education or entertainment. One of the first uses of dioramas in a museum was in Stockholm, where the Biological Museum opened in 1893, it had several dioramas, over three floors. They were implemented by the National Museum Grigore Antipa from Bucharest Romania and constituted a source of inspiration for many important museums in the world. Miniature dioramas are much smaller, use scale models and landscaping to create historical or fictional scenes; such a scale model-based diorama is used, for example, in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry to display railroading. This diorama employs a common model railroading scale of 1:87. Hobbyist dioramas use scales such as 1:35 or 1:48. An early, exceptionally large example was created between 1830 and 1838 by a British Army officer. William Siborne, represents the Battle of Waterloo at about 7.45 pm, on 18 June, 1815.
The diorama used around 70,000 model soldiers in its construction. It is now part of the collection of the National Army Museum in London. Sheperd Paine, a prominent hobbyist, popularized the modern miniature diorama beginning in the 1970s. Modern museum dioramas may be seen in most major natural-history museums; these displays use a tilted plane to represent what would otherwise be a level surface, incorporate a painted background of distant objects, employ false perspective modifying the scale of objects placed on the plane to reinforce the illusion through depth perception in which objects of identical real-world size placed farther from the observer appear smaller than those closer. The distant painted background or sky will be painted upon a continuous curved surface so that the viewer is not distracted by corners, seams, or edges. All of these techniques are means of presenting a realistic view of a large scene in a compact space. A photograph or single-eye view of such a diorama can be convincing, since in this case there is no distraction by the binocular perception of depth.
Miniature dioramas may be used to represent scenes from historic events. A typical example of this type are the dioramas to be seen at Norway's Resistance Museum in Oslo, Norway. Landscapes built around model railways can be considered dioramas though they have to compromise scale accuracy for better operating characteristics. Hobbyists build dioramas of historical or quasi-historical events using a variety of materials, including plastic models of military vehicles, ships or other equipment, along with scale figures and landscaping. In the 19th and beginning 20th century, building dioramas of sailing ships had been a popular handcraft of mariners. Building a diorama instead of a normal model had the advantage that in the diorama, the model was protected inside the framework and could be stowed below the bunk or behind the sea chest. Nowadays, such antique sailing ship dioramas are valuable collectors' items. One of the largest dioramas created was a model of the entire State of California built for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 and that for a long time was installed in San Francisco's Ferry Building.
Dioramas are used in the American educational system in elementary and middle schools. They are made to represent historical events, ecological biomes, cultural scenes, or to visually depict literature, they are made from a shoebox and contain a trompe-l'œil in the background contrasted with two or three-dimensional models in the foreground. The Diorama was a popular entertainment that originated in Paris in 1822. An alternative to the popular "Panorama", the Diorama was a theatrical experience viewed by an audience in a specialized theatre; as many as 350 patrons would file in to view a landscape painting that would change its appearance both subtly and dramatically. Most would stand; the show lasted 10 to 15 minutes, after which time the entire audience would rotate to view a second painting. Models of the Diorama theater held a third painting; the size of the proscenium was 24 feet wide by 21 feet high. Each scene was hand-painted on linen, made transparent in selected areas. A ser
Oxford Street is a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors, as of 2012 had 300 shops, it is designated as part of the A40, a major road between London and Fishguard, though it is not signed as such, traffic is restricted to buses and taxis. The road was part of the Via Trinobantina, a Roman road between Essex and Hampshire via London, it was known as Tyburn Road through the Middle Ages when it was notorious for public hangings of prisoners in Newgate Prison. It became known as Oxford Road and Oxford Street in the 18th century, began to change from residential to commercial and retail purposes by the late 19th century, attracting street traders, confidence tricksters and prostitution; the first department stores in Britain opened in the early 20th century, including Selfridges, John Lewis and HMV. Unlike nearby shopping streets such as Bond Street, it has retained an element of downmarket trading alongside more prestigious retail stores.
The street suffered heavy bombing during World War II, several longstanding stores including John Lewis were destroyed and rebuilt from scratch. Despite competition from other shopping centres such as Westfield Stratford City and the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Oxford Street remains in high demand as a retail location, with several chains hosting their flagship stores on the street, has a number of listed buildings; the annual switching on of Christmas lights by a celebrity has been a popular event since 1959. As a popular retail area and main thoroughfare for London buses and taxis, Oxford Street has suffered from traffic congestion, a poor safety record and pollution. Various traffic management schemes have been implemented by Transport for London, including a ban on private vehicles during daytime hours on weekdays and Saturdays, improved pedestrian crossings. Oxford Street runs for 1.2 miles. It is within the City of Westminster; the road begins at St Giles Circus as a westward continuation of New Oxford Street, meeting Charing Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road.
It runs past Great Portland Street, Wardour Street and Rathbone Place to Oxford Circus, where it meets Regent Street. From there it continues past New Bond Street, Bond Street station and Vere Street, ending on Marble Arch; the road is within the London Congestion Charging Zone. It is part of the A40, most of, a trunk road running from London to Fishguard. Like many roads in Central London that are no longer through routes, it is not signposted with that number. Numerous bus routes run along Oxford Street, including 10, 25, 55, 73, 98, 390 and Night Buses N8, N55, N73, N98 and N207. Oxford Street follows the route of a Roman road, the Via Trinobantina, which linked Calleva Atrebatum with Camulodunum via London and became one of the major routes in and out of the city. Between the 12th century and 1782, it was variously known as Tyburn Road, Uxbridge Road, Worcester Road and Oxford Road. On Ralph Aggas' "Plan of London", published in the 16th century, the road is described as "The Waye to Uxbridge" followed by "Oxford Road", showing rural farmland where the junction of Oxford Street and Rathbone Place now is.
Though a major coaching route, there were several obstacles along it, including the bridge over the Tyburn. A turnpike trust was established in the 1730s to improve upkeep of the road, it became notorious as the route taken by prisoners on their final journey from Newgate Prison to the gallows at Tyburn near Marble Arch. Spectators jeered as the prisoners were carted along the road, could buy rope used in the executions from the hangman in taverns. By about 1729, the road had become known as Oxford Street. Development began in the 18th century after many surrounding fields were purchased by the Earl of Oxford. In 1739, a local gardener, Thomas Huddle, built property on the north side. John Rocque's Map of London, published in 1746, shows urban buildings as far as North Audley Street, but only intermittent rural property beyond. Buildings were erected on Davies Street in the 1750s. Further development occurred between 1763 and 1793; the Pantheon, a place for public entertainment, opened at No. 173 in 1772.
The street became popular for entertainment including bear-baiters and public houses. However, it was not attractive to the middle and upper classes due to the nearby Tyburn gallows and the notorious St Giles rookery, or slum; the gallows were removed in 1783, by the end of the century, Oxford Street was built up from St Giles Circus to Park Lane, containing a mix of residential houses and entertainment. The site of the Princess's Theatre that opened in 1840 is now occupied by Oxford Walk shopping area. Oxford Circus was designed as part of the development of Regent Street by the architect John Nash in 1810; the four quadrants of the circus were designed by Sir Henry Tanner and constructed between 1913 and 1928. Oxford Street changed in character from residential to retail towards the end of the 19th century. Drapers and furniture stores opened shops on the street, some expanded into the first department stores. Street vendors sold tourist souvenirs during this time. A plan in Tallis's London Street Views, published in the late 1830s, remarks that all the street, save for the far western end, was retail.
John Lewis started in 1864 in small shop at No. 132, wh
Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery and sometimes dance or ballet; the performance is given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor. Opera is a key part of the Western classical music tradition. Understood as an sung piece, in contrast to a play with songs, opera has come to include numerous genres, including some that include spoken dialogue such as musical theater, Singspiel and Opéra comique. In traditional number opera, singers employ two styles of singing: recitative, a speech-inflected style and self-contained arias; the 19th century saw the rise of the continuous music drama. Opera originated in Italy at the end of the 16th century and soon spread through the rest of Europe: Heinrich Schütz in Germany, Jean-Baptiste Lully in France, Henry Purcell in England all helped to establish their national traditions in the 17th century.
In the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe, attracting foreign composers such as George Frideric Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Christoph Willibald Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his "reform" operas in the 1760s; the most renowned figure of late 18th-century opera is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who began with opera seria but is most famous for his Italian comic operas The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, as well as Die Entführung aus dem Serail, The Magic Flute, landmarks in the German tradition. The first third of the 19th century saw the high point of the bel canto style, with Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti and Vincenzo Bellini all creating works that are still performed, it saw the advent of Grand Opera typified by the works of Auber and Meyerbeer. The mid-to-late 19th century was a golden age of opera and dominated by Giuseppe Verdi in Italy and Richard Wagner in Germany; the popularity of opera continued through the verismo era in Italy and contemporary French opera through to Giacomo Puccini and Richard Strauss in the early 20th century.
During the 19th century, parallel operatic traditions emerged in central and eastern Europe in Russia and Bohemia. The 20th century saw many experiments with modern styles, such as atonality and serialism and Minimalism. With the rise of recording technology, singers such as Enrico Caruso and Maria Callas became known to much wider audiences that went beyond the circle of opera fans. Since the invention of radio and television, operas were performed on these mediums. Beginning in 2006, a number of major opera houses began to present live high-definition video transmissions of their performances in cinemas all over the world. Since 2009, complete performances are live streamed; the words of an opera are known as the libretto. Some composers, notably Wagner, have written their own libretti. Traditional opera referred to as "number opera", consists of two modes of singing: recitative, the plot-driving passages sung in a style designed to imitate and emphasize the inflections of speech, aria in which the characters express their emotions in a more structured melodic style.
Vocal duets and other ensembles occur, choruses are used to comment on the action. In some forms of opera, such as singspiel, opéra comique and semi-opera, the recitative is replaced by spoken dialogue. Melodic or semi-melodic passages occurring in the midst of, or instead of, are referred to as arioso; the terminology of the various kinds of operatic voices is described in detail below. During both the Baroque and Classical periods, recitative could appear in two basic forms, each of, accompanied by a different instrumental ensemble: secco recitative, sung with a free rhythm dictated by the accent of the words, accompanied only by basso continuo, a harpsichord and a cello. Over the 18th century, arias were accompanied by the orchestra. By the 19th century, accompagnato had gained the upper hand, the orchestra played a much bigger role, Wagner revolutionized opera by abolishing all distinction between aria and recitative in his quest for what Wagner termed "endless melody". Subsequent composers have tended to follow Wagner's example, though some, such as Stravinsky in his The Rake's Progress have bucked the trend.
The changing role of the orchestra in opera is described in more detail below. The Italian word opera means "work", both in the sense of the labour done and the result produced; the Italian word derives from the Latin opera, a singular noun meaning "work" and the plural of the noun opus. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Italian word was first used in the sense "composition in which poetry and music are combined" in 1639. Dafne by Jacopo Peri was the earliest composition considered opera, it was writt
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke and the King died in 1820, Victoria was raised under close supervision by her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, she inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held little direct political power. Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments. Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840, their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe". After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria avoided public appearances.
As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration, her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors and is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, political and military change within the United Kingdom, was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire, she was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, initiated the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father. Victoria's father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of the reigning King of the United Kingdom, George III; until 1817, Edward's niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, was the only legitimate grandchild of George III. Her death in 1817 precipitated a succession crisis that brought pressure on the Duke of Kent and his unmarried brothers to marry and have children.
In 1818 he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children—Carl and Feodora —by her first marriage to the Prince of Leiningen. Her brother Leopold was Princess Charlotte's widower; the Duke and Duchess of Kent's only child, was born at 4.15 a.m. on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London. Victoria was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24 June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace, she was baptised Alexandrina after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, Victoria, after her mother. Additional names proposed by her parents—Georgina and Augusta—were dropped on the instructions of Kent's eldest brother, the Prince Regent. At birth, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after the four eldest sons of George III: George, the Prince Regent; the Prince Regent had no surviving children, the Duke of York had no children. The Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Kent married on the same day in 1818, but both of Clarence's legitimate daughters died as infants.
The first of these was Princess Charlotte, born and died on 27 March 1819, two months before Victoria was born. Victoria's father died in January 1820. A week her grandfather died and was succeeded by his eldest son as George IV. Victoria was third in line to the throne after York and Clarence. Clarence's second daughter was Princess Elizabeth of Clarence who lived for twelve weeks from 10 December 1820 to 4 March 1821 and, while Elizabeth lived, Victoria was fourth in line; the Duke of York died in 1827. When George IV died in 1830, he was succeeded by his next surviving brother, Clarence, as William IV, Victoria became heir presumptive; the Regency Act 1830 made special provision for Victoria's mother to act as regent in case William died while Victoria was still a minor. King William distrusted the Duchess's capacity to be regent, in 1836 he declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria's 18th birthday, so that a regency could be avoided. Victoria described her childhood as "rather melancholy".
Her mother was protective, Victoria was raised isolated from other children under the so-called "Kensington System", an elaborate set of rules and protocols devised by the Duchess and her ambitious and domineering comptroller, Sir John Conroy, rumoured to be the Duchess's lover. The system prevented the princess from meeting people whom her mother and Conroy deemed undesirable, was designed to render her weak and dependent upon them; the Duchess avoided the court because she was scandalised by the presence of King William's illegitimate children. Victoria shared a bedroom with her mother every night, studied with private tutors to a regular timetable, spent her play-hours with her dolls and her King Charles Spaniel, Dash, her lessons included French, German and Latin, but she spoke only English at home. In 1830, the Duchess of Kent and Conroy took Victoria across the centre of England to visit the Malvern Hills, stopping at towns and great country houses along the way. Similar journeys to oth