Princess Alexandra Amalie of Bavaria (1826 – 1875) is famous for believing that she swallowed a glass piano as a child. There’s even a play about her, The Glass Piano. She wasn’t the only one to believe she was made of glass.
Alexandra was born on 26 August 1826 and was the daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and his wife, Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Ludwig’s half-sister was Ludovika of Bavaria, making Alexandra the first cousin of Empress Sisi and Helene in Bavaria. Alexandra had eight siblings, seven survived to adulthood. Among them were King Otto I of Greece (husband of Amalia of Oldenburg); Maximilian II of Bavaria; Mathilde Karoline, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine; Adelgunde, Duchess of Modena; and Hildegard, Duchess of Teschen. Alexandra was the eighth child (seventh surviving child) of her parents.
Louis Lucien Bonaparte, a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, had proposed to Alexandra, but her father refused the proposal. Alexandra only wore white clothes and had a fixation with cleanliness. When she was in her twenties, her family noticed she was acting strange. She was walking sideways and being very careful with how she moved. Her family asked her what she was doing, and her answer was not a very unusual one.
She said that, as a child, she’d swallowed a glass piano whole, and if she wasn’t careful, it would shatter, as it was still fully intact. This was known as “the glass delusion”. One famous case was Charles the Mad, King of France during the Hundred Years’ War, who sometimes believed he was made of glass. The delusion was common among nobles, though it would become much rarer after Alexandra.
Still, Alexandra Amalie didn’t spend every moment thinking she was made of glass, and she became a writer. She wrote many books of stories throughout the rest of her life. Alexandra died on 21 September 1875 at the age of forty-nine. She is buried in the Wittelsbach crypt in Munich.