Monday, June 30, 2008

Lili'uokalani: Queen & Author

Hawai’i has inspired many people and some of its most historically recognized authors are also its most influential monarchs. Queen Lili’uokalani published Hawai’i’s Story by Hawai’i’s Queen in 1898, just before annexation. The overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy is a controversial topic of debate so naturally Lili’uokalani’s book is controversial as well. After publication, her authorship of this provacative and intimate portrayal of Hawai’i’s royal history was questioned.

Controversy aside, this book is absolutely enchanting! Read about the monarchy, Hawaiian government, society and culture–all through the eyes of a queen who lovingly describes her land and people with inspiring detail. This book reminded me of a regency novel, similar to Jane Austens popular stories of Edwardian life, only more heartwrenching because of the real life political turbulence that provides the conflict of her story. It has the same vibrance and grace but with an underlying sadness in its language and imagery.

Perhaps the greatest testament to her skills as a writer and to her unique voice, is the honor of being recognized as one of history’s greatest female authors. You can read an electronic version of Hawai’i’s Story by Hawai’i’s Queen at the site below, A Celebration of Women Writers. She is in great company there.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the book itself was written, and why her authorship has been debated, the following essay is a great place to start. It was written by a University of Hawaii professor who studied Queen Lili’uokalani’s diaries extensively. Queen Lili’uokalani kept several diaries from 1896 through 1897. These diaries, along with her memories of childhood, were used to compile the manuscript for her book.

The Diary of Queen Lili’uokalani

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