Sophie, Queen of the Netherlands: Letters to Lady Malet

Scope and Content

Letters from Sophie, Queen of the Netherlands, to Lady Malet, 1842-1877, transcribed from the originals at Duke University Library by S.W. Jackman, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The letters cover all aspects of the correspondents' lives, including their family, friends and acquaintances, personal matters, politics, and the books they read. Sophie often refers to her health, which was poor.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sophie Frederika Mathilde of Wrttemberg (1818-1877) was born on 17 June 1818, the youngest child of King William I of Württemberg and his second wife, Grand Duchess Catharina Paulowna of Russia, daughter of Tsar Paul I. On 18 June 1839 she married her first cousin, William (1817-1890), who became King of the Netherlands in 1849. The couple had two sons, William (b. 1840) and Maurice (b. 1843). Sophie had a quiet existence at The Hague, where she read literature, studied and corresponded with acquaintances outside the Netherlands. She died at Het Huis ten Bosch on 3 June 1877.

Mary Anne Dora, Lady Malet (c. 1810-1891), was the only child of John Spalding and Mary Anne Spalding, ne Eden. She married the diplomat Sir Alexander Malet (1800-1886) on 22 December 1834, and that year moved to The Hague, where her husband had been appointed secretary of legation. The couple remained in the Netherlands for nearly nine years before Malet was transferred to Vienna, then Stuttgart. He was appointed British minister-plenipotentiary to the German Confederation at Frankfurt in 1849. After Malet's retirement in 1866, the couple lived at Wilbury House in Wiltshire. Lady Malet corresponded with Queen Sophie almost weekly over a period of thirty-five years. Although Sophie destroyed the letters she received from her friend, Lady Malet ignored her friend's request to destroy her own letters.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by S.W. Jackman, 1979.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, with reference to A stranger in The Hague: the letters of Queen Sophie of the Netherlands to Lady Malet, 1842-1877, edited by Sydney W. Jackman and Hella Haase (Duke University Press, 1989).

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