Kuhn, William M.
Kuhn, William M.
Office—Department of History, Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Dr., Kenosha, WI 53140-1994. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, educator. Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, chair of department of history.
Democratic Royalism: The Transformation of the British Monarchy, 1861-1914, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1996.
Henry and Mary Ponsonby: Life at the Court of Queen Victoria, Duckworth (London, England), 2002.
Contributor to journals, including English Historical Review.
William M. Kuhn is the chair of the department of history at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He has written two books on the British monarchy: Democratic Royalism: The Transformation of the British Monarchy, 1861-1914 and Henry and Mary Ponsonby: Life at the Court of Queen Victoria.
Kuhn looks at the recent history of the British royal family in Democratic Royalism. He argues that the royal family has undergone a change in its role in English society. While it once held actual governmental power, the family has evolved into an important symbol of national unity. Through the use of symbolic events, ceremonies, and spectacles, the royals became living embodiments of the English nation and its traditional way of life. Kuhn focuses on five British politicians of the late nineteenth century who helped to create this transition. Writing in History Today, Frank Prochaska found the study to be "a welcome addition to our knowledge of royal advisers."
In Henry and Mary Ponsonby, Kuhn looks at two pivotal figures from Queen Victoria's court. Sir Henry Ponsonby was the queen's private secretary for some twenty-five years. In this role, he served as the queen's discreet advisor in her dealings with government ministers and foreign heads of state. He helped to ease tensions, iron over hurt feelings, and resolve problems that arose from these personal interactions. Lady Mary Ponsonby was an outgoing woman known for her involvement in social causes of the day and her friendships with leading artists and writers. "Kuhn is very good at laying out how two very different people managed to make their marriage work," Martha Vicinus wrote in Victorian Studies. "This study," stated the critic for the Contemporary Review, "shows how the Monarchy functioned during this period and how courtiers worked and lived." In her review for Albion, Marjorie Morgan found the book to be "a pleasure to read, offering a nice balance between anecdote and analysis." "In this extraordinarily accomplished book," Kathryn Hughes commented on the Daily Telegraph Web site, "[Kuhn] uses the lives of two of Queen Victoria's most important courtiers to explore the strengths and limits of constitutional monarchy during the 19th-century and beyond." "This is an excellent book," John Jolliffe concluded in the Spectator, "instructive as well as highly entertaining."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Albion, winter, 2004, Marjorie Morgan, review of Henry and Mary Ponsonby: Life at the Court of Queen Victoria, p. 677.
Contemporary Review, December, 2002, review of Henry and Mary Ponsonby, p. 379.
Historical Journal, Number 42, 1999, Hannah Smith, review of Democratic Royalism: The Transformation of the British Monarchy, 1861-1914, pp. 583-595.
History: Review of New Books, winter, 2003, Jean Paquette, review of Henry and Mary Ponsonby, p. 66.
History: The Journal of the Historical Association, October, 1998, review of Democratic Royalism, p. 743.
History Today, May, 1997, Frank Prochaska, review of Democratic Royalism, p. 55; November, 2001, Anne Pointer, review of Henry and Mary Ponsonby, p. 58.
Journal of Modern History, September, 1999, Frank O'Gorman, review of Democratic Royalism, p. 687.
Spectator, June 1, 2002, John Jolliffe, review of Henry and Mary Ponsonby, p. 36.
Victorian Studies, autumn, 1997, Walter L. Arnstein, review of Democratic Royalism, p. 152; winter, 2003, Martha Vicinus, review of Henry and Mary Ponsonby, p. 380.
Carthage College Web site,http://www.carthage.edu/ (May 13, 2008).
Daily Telegraph Web site,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ (June 14, 2008), Kathryn Hughes, review of Henry and Mary Ponsonby.
Duckworth Web site,http://www.ducknet.co.uk/ (June 14, 2008).
Palgrave Macmillan Web site,http://www.palgraveusa.com/ (June 14, 2008).