Princess Alexandra of Bavaria
Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler
|Born||26 August 1826|
Schloss Johannisburg, Aschaffenburg
|Died||21 September 1875 (aged 49)|
|Father||Ludwig I of Bavaria|
|Mother||Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen|
Princess Alexandra Amalie of Bavaria (26 August 1826 – 21 September 1875) was a member of the House of Wittelsbach and devoted her life to literature.
Alexandra was born in Schloss Johannisburg in Aschaffenburg, the eighth child and fifth daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and of his wife, Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. As a girl, her portrait was painted by Joseph Karl Stieler for the "Gallery of Beauties" which her father commissioned at Schloss Nymphenburg.
Later life and death
Alexandra never married, and instead was appointed abbess of the Royal Chapter for Ladies of Saint Anne in Munich and Würzburg; this was a religious community specifically for noble ladies. In the 1850s, Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte asked King Ludwig for Alexandra's hand in marriage, but he was divorced from his wife, and Ludwig refused, using as an excuse Alexandra's delicate health.
In 1852, Alexandra began a literary career. Her first book of stories was entitled Weihnachtsrosen (Christmas roses). The next year she published Souvenirs, pensées et essais (Memories, thoughts and essays). In 1856 appeared Feldblumen (Field flowers), the proceeds of which she donated to the Maximilian Orphanage. In 1858 appeared Phantasie- und Lebensbilder (Daydreams and biographical sketches), a collection of loose translations into German from English and French. In 1862, she produced a loose translation into German of some of the romances of Eugenie Foa. The following year appeared Thautropfen (Dewdrops), a collection of stories translated into German from French as well as others of her own.
In 1870, Alexandra produced Das Kindertheater (The children's theatre), a German translation of some French children's plays from Arnaud Berquin's L'ami des enfants. That same year appeared Der erste des Monats (The first of the month), a German translation of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly's French book. In 1873, she produced Maiglöckchen (Lilies of the valley), a collection of stories. Alexandra also had a number of contributions published in Isabella Braun's periodical Jugendblätter.
Notwithstanding her literary accomplishments, Alexandra suffered from a number of psychological eccentricities, including a fixation with cleanliness as well as wearing only white clothes. In her early twenties, she notably developed a delusion that as a child she had swallowed a grand piano made of glass, which remained inside her. This delusion was the subject of a 2010 BBC Radio 3 programme called "The Glass Piano", written and narrated by poet Deborah Levy, with musical sound effects interspersed between commentary by psychoanalyst Susie Orbach and others. She is the subject of a play at the Coronet Cinema in 2019.
- Egon Caesar Corti, Ludwig I. von Bayern (München: Bruckmann, 1942), 508.
- Christian Dickinger, Die schwarzen Schafe der Wittelsbacher: zwischen Thronsaal und Irrenhaus (München: Piper, 2005), 101–102. ISBN 3-492-24345-2; Martha Schad, Bayerns Königgen (Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet, 1992), 113.
- "The Glass Piano" (Audio). Third Coast International Audio Festival.
- "The Glass Piano" on Between the Ears, BBC Radio 3, 24 April 2010
- "The princess who thought she was made of glass", Holly Williams, bbc.com, 16 May 2019
- Rall, Hans. Wittelsbacher Lebensbilder von Kaiser Ludwig bis zur Gegenwart: Führer durch die Münchener Fürstengrüfte mit Verzeichnis aller Wittelsbacher Grablegen und Grabstätten. München: Wittelsbacher Ausgleichsfonds.
Media related to Princess Alexandra Amalie of Bavaria at Wikimedia Commons