Queen Victoria
Who was Queen Victoria? A little old lady, potato-like in appearance, dressed in everlasting black? Or a passionate young princess, a romantic heroine with a love of dancing? There is also a third Victoria - a woman who was also a remarkably successful queen, one who invented a new role for the monarchy. She found a way of being a respected sovereign in an age when people were deeply uncomfortable with having a woman on the throne.As well as a queen, Victoria was a daughter, a wife, a mother and a widow, and at each of these steps along life's journey she was expected to conform to what society demanded of a woman. On the face of it, she was deeply conservative. But if you look at her actions rather than her words, she was in fact tearing up the rule book for how to be female. By looking at the detail of twenty-four days of her life, through diaries, letters and more, we can see Victoria up close and personal. Examining her face-to-face, as she lived hour to hour, allows us to see, and to celebrate, the contradictions at the heart of British history's most recognisable woman.

Queen Victoria Details

TitleQueen Victoria
Author
ReleaseSep 6th, 2018
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Biography, Audiobook

Queen Victoria Review

  • Olishka
    January 1, 1970
    Worsley: "On the face of it, she was deeply conservative. But if you look at her actions rather than her words, she was in fact tearing up the rule book for how to be female."Victoria: “I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of “Women’s Rights,” with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to “unsex” Worsley: "On the face of it, she was deeply conservative. But if you look at her actions rather than her words, she was in fact tearing up the rule book for how to be female."Victoria: “I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of “Women’s Rights,” with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to “unsex” themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection.”Can we just stop with this stuff? Victoria wasn't a feminist; she was not a good queen, she enjoyed her status but treated her daughters particularly cruel (the woman literally wrote to one whose son died, basically 'how dare you compare your grief to mine, for you 'ONLY' lost a son and not a husband') . She was a woman of complexity and contradictions, at once one half of the greatest love story of royal history with Prince Albert, yet a far from loving mother; a woman who could feel sympathy, yet also was virulently anti-Irish; was a sovereign queen, yet violently anti-feminist and didn’t think women were fit to rule. At the time she died, she reigned longer than any English monarch in history yet is responsible by her erratic behaviour for the erosion of what was left of the powers of the royal family, creating a permanently damaging image.Worsley has a tendency to complete misquotation. Even in her Daily Fail article, where she writes "She was determined, she wrote, that as a widow ‘no one person, may he be ever so good… is to lead, or guide, or dictate to me’. She was saying that no one would ever again have the mastery over her that Albert had possessed. And she was right. From now on, she stood, and ruled, alone. With Bertie’s illness, Victoria’s return to the self she had lost in Albert had begun." When in ACTUALLITY, THIS is what Victoria wrote and meant: I am also anxious to repeat one thing, and that one is my firm resolve, my irrevocable decision, viz. that his wishes—his [Albert's] plans—about everything, his views about every thing are to be my law! And no human power will make me swerve from what he decided and wished—and I look to you to support and help me in this. I apply this particularly as regards our children—Bertie, etc.—for whose future he had traced everything so carefully. I am also determined that no one person, may he be ever so good, ever so devoted among my servants—is to lead or guide or dictate to me. I know how he would disapprove it. And I live on with him, for him; in fact I am only outwardly separated from him, and only for a time." That's a really disgusting twist of history for a writer who claims to be "#teamvictoria", which I AM. As much as I love Albert, Victoria is my unrivaled favourite between the two. Having a favourite doesn't mean erasing their flaws but embracing them as a fact and not molding them into 21st century ideals.As noted in professional reviews, this author of popular history (I would like to note Worsley while a professional art historian, is not an academic professional historian, she does not have a professional degree in history nor worked as a professional historian academic. It takes expert training & profession to write genuine history) completely relies on other people's second hand sources, quoting them incessantly. There is such little reliance on primary sources that it's no surprise with her white "feminism" Worsley attempts to paint Victoria as a feminist figure and good queen, and all her flaws are blamed on others. It really just came off to be as a lazy and obvious capitalization on the relative popularity of the historically loose ITV Victoria, in which Victoria is disgustingly portrayed as a feminist social justice queen even supporting the Irish; in Ireland she is known as the Famine queen, Irish people hate her, for GOOD reasons, she called them "terrible people" and blocked donations to the Irish genocide relief that were higher than hers because she didn't want to be outdone - making her completely complicit in the deaths caused by her government. It makes me irritated white women feel the need to spin anti-feminist white women as women's rights activists, where there are ACTUAL feminist figures - including ones of colour who are gravely ignored in popular history. (BTW, this is not at all me saying Worsley should or is duty bound to write about woc - I don't want her to) - but my point being Victoria isn't a feminist and feminists of colour are overlooked. It's a huge reach, a weird way for white women to feel better about their favs. You can like a historical figure without romantisation. I was weary of Worsley's work for a while, especially watching her young Victoria documentary, where she grossly claims Victoria was exaggerating her abuse by her mother. Yet Worsley calls Albert - very wrongly - an abuser (first written by her in a Daily Fail article). You can't play an abuse apologist and supporter of abuse victims like me.These are narrative nonfiction books that I recommend, that rely heavily on primary source and thus are far more balanced and accurate and well-written: the definitive biographies by Stanley Weintraub - Victoria An Intimate Biography , and Christopher Hibbert - Queen Victoria: A Personal History . Other excellent sources: The Young Victoria by Alison Plowden, Victoria and Albert by Richard Hough, Becoming Victoria by Lynne Vallone, Victoria and Albert: A Family Life at Osborne House by Sarah Ferguson( By the way, unlike the book blurb says, Victoria was 11 not 13 when she found out she was queen. I've only heard one other medium claim 13 and it was ITV Victoria... take that information with that you will.)
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    Recent books and films have overturned the popular image of Queen Victoria as a dour recluse widow of ponderous dimensions to include the lively, stubborn girl-queen who loved dancing and wine and the young wife who enjoyed sex.Lucy Worsley wanted to expand Victoria's story beyond the "dancing princess to potato" to include the woman who preserved the monarchy and ruled an empire. Worsley draws from Victoria's diaries and journals, probing behind the polished exterior presented for posterity. He Recent books and films have overturned the popular image of Queen Victoria as a dour recluse widow of ponderous dimensions to include the lively, stubborn girl-queen who loved dancing and wine and the young wife who enjoyed sex.Lucy Worsley wanted to expand Victoria's story beyond the "dancing princess to potato" to include the woman who preserved the monarchy and ruled an empire. Worsley draws from Victoria's diaries and journals, probing behind the polished exterior presented for posterity. Her Victoria is a fully human, complicated, person, someone we can admire and dislike at the same time.The book concentrates on twenty-four days in Victoria's life through which readers come to understand her family background and relationships, her love for Albert (who both supported and limited her as queen), the places she loved, her political alliances and battles, the few people who became more than servants and valued as trusted friends, and her grief, loneliness, and physical incapacities in old age.Worsley writes in the preface, "I hope that seeing her [Victoria] up close, examining her face-to-face, as she lived hour-to-hour through twenty-four days of her life, might help you to imagine meeting her yourself, so that you can form your own opinion on the contradictions at the heart of British history's most recognizable woman."The physical woman Victoria is given attention. At her prime, Victoria was 5 feet and 1 1/4 inch tall, with tiny feet, large blue prominent eyes, and a "fine bust." Her lower lip hung open, but she also had a wide-open smile when delighted. Her weight yo-yoed with health, illness, pregnancy, dieting, and the incapacitation that in old age left her unable to walk. And she loved to walk on a brisk, cold day. Victoria ruled throughout most of the 19th c when monarchies across Europe were ended by revolutions. She came to the throne with everything against her, especially being a young and inexperienced girl. She was constantly being watched for signs of madness, both genetic and related to the "female problems" which were believed to trigger hysteria and madness.It was imperative that she marry and it was arranged she marry her German cousin Albert. She fell in love with his beauty and goodness. To compensate for his parental scandalous infidelities he was committed to being a loving father and husband. But Albert was a German and he had to win the British people's trust and love. His German coldness and exacting values could be hard to live with. He did not approve of Victoria's love of dancing and drinking.With Victoria perpetually pregnant (nine times!), Albert applied himself to fulfill her duties. Victoria came to rely on his guidance; his early death was devastating to her as queen as well as wife. In spite of her liaisons with unsuitable friends, the gilly John Brown and the Muslim Abdul, Victoria became the public image of the proper Victorian wife and widow, an "ordinary good woman."I found the book to be vastly interesting and enjoyable. It expanded my understanding of Victoria. It amazed me how much of Victoria's life Worsley covered in those twenty-four days! I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • Helen Carolan
    January 1, 1970
    I love Ms Worsley's books, but I've never been a big fan of queen Victoria or prince Albert. However I might revise my idea of Victoria. Certainly her early years with her mother were difficult, but her later treatment of her mother was quite shocking. Much of the blame for how Victoria turned out in later years can be laid at Albert's door. Despite vowing to herself never to become dependent on a man like her mother, Victoria did exactly that and allowed Albert to dictate how both their private I love Ms Worsley's books, but I've never been a big fan of queen Victoria or prince Albert. However I might revise my idea of Victoria. Certainly her early years with her mother were difficult, but her later treatment of her mother was quite shocking. Much of the blame for how Victoria turned out in later years can be laid at Albert's door. Despite vowing to herself never to become dependent on a man like her mother, Victoria did exactly that and allowed Albert to dictate how both their private and public lives were lived.Albert does not come out of this book smelling of roses,but Victoria has been slightly redeemed for me. As usual Ms Worsley,s writing is informative and witty.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    I run past Kensington Palace almost every morning, and every morning I see a tourist taking a picture of the giant white statue of Queen Victoria. I realised, being rather American, that I don't know very much about Queen Victoria. So when I saw that Lucy Worsley wrote a book about her, I felt it was my civic duty to read it. (Side note: Lucy Worsley is one of the best people on the planet, and I want to be her when I grow up.)I really enjoyed this book. It is interesting, and it reads more like I run past Kensington Palace almost every morning, and every morning I see a tourist taking a picture of the giant white statue of Queen Victoria. I realised, being rather American, that I don't know very much about Queen Victoria. So when I saw that Lucy Worsley wrote a book about her, I felt it was my civic duty to read it. (Side note: Lucy Worsley is one of the best people on the planet, and I want to be her when I grow up.)I really enjoyed this book. It is interesting, and it reads more like a conversation than a non-fiction history book. Lucy Worsley picked out different moments in Queen Victoria's life to focus on, which was an interesting way to chronologically and topically explore the queen's life.There was never a moment where I thought Lucy got lost in her own musings or wandered on a random side-topic, which is something a lot of history books tend to do. Instead, she added in quite a few interesting quotes from both the queen and the people around her.Lucy Worsley was also very candid on how she feels about Queen Victoria. I appreciated that, because Queen Victoria is complex. There were moments where I pity her, where I find her ridiculous and stupid, and times where she is genius and good. I felt a slight bond with Victoria when it spoke about her maternal instincts (She has none. I also have none. Oh, and seeing pictures of your baby on Instagram bores me.) I also felt like I understood her in her extraordinary ordinariness. But then I also can't believe how she witnessed the terrible suffering of her people (think Dicken's Bleak House or the Irish famines), and she didn't do anything to help or stop it.However, there were times when the book didn't seem quite clear. In two of the later chapters, it was as if topics were wrapped up too quickly. But maybe this was just me wanting to learn more and not any fault of Lucy's (We are on a first-name basis now, Lucy).Oh, and each time I read the book, I had to will myself to not spill tea on it and ruin the beautiful cover. It was a trying time.
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Very readable, each chapter taking a significant date in her life. Lucy certainly brings history to life.
  • Theresa Dunk
    January 1, 1970
    This book held my interest from start to finish. Lots of little stories I remember being passed down to me during my childhood, all true to the tale. Osbourne House in particular. Pity it did not mention Fort Albert which was a favourite playing ground of both V&A’s children and also mine.
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  • Marie-Dom
    January 1, 1970
    RivetingI couldn't put this book down. Lucy Worsley creates a vivid picture of Victoria throughout her life. Brilliant research, beautifully written. Evocative. A wonderful portrait of a great queen and woman.
  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    I found this really fascinating and very much enjoyed it
  • Miriam
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this biography of Queen Victoria. I read so very much about Victorian culture and literature for my degree and for fun that it seemed strange that I had never read that much about the woman herself, so when I saw this book by Lucy Worsley (whose writing I love) I had to get it. And there was a lot here which I hadn't known, so that was very interesting. Lucy Worsley does a great job of showing the reader Victoria's personal relationships with others, be that her family or her serv I really liked this biography of Queen Victoria. I read so very much about Victorian culture and literature for my degree and for fun that it seemed strange that I had never read that much about the woman herself, so when I saw this book by Lucy Worsley (whose writing I love) I had to get it. And there was a lot here which I hadn't known, so that was very interesting. Lucy Worsley does a great job of showing the reader Victoria's personal relationships with others, be that her family or her servants, and how different these relationships were from what was expected of her. For all that Victoria personified middle-class values, she was still the Queen, and Worsley also goes into how Victoria interacted with the politicians who ran Britain in the nineteenth century, and how she used the power she still had as monarch, and the powers she was not actually supposed to have anymore.By choosing 24 significant dates in Victoria's life, Worsley manages to give the reader a good overview of the stages of her life and the enormous changes in her circumstances that defined these stages without getting bogged down in the mintiae of years of Victoria's everyday life in which everything stayed pretty much the same.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    British historian Lucy Worsley's new book, "Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life", is a well-written, comprehensive biography. Before I started to read the book, I supposed the "Twenty Four" days were a specific period of time, say, the time around her 18th birthday, and her ascension to throne soon after. But, the "Twenty Four" days were actually individual days, important to her and her reign. Her birth day, her wedding day, the death of Albert, are just a few of the days hig British historian Lucy Worsley's new book, "Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life", is a well-written, comprehensive biography. Before I started to read the book, I supposed the "Twenty Four" days were a specific period of time, say, the time around her 18th birthday, and her ascension to throne soon after. But, the "Twenty Four" days were actually individual days, important to her and her reign. Her birth day, her wedding day, the death of Albert, are just a few of the days highlighted in the text. I mention the difference in "Twenty Four" days because of the recent trend in history writing of concentrating on a small part of a person's life. Worsley's is a complete bio.Lucy Worsley's a very good writer and TV presenter. Her knowledge and easy writing style are reflected in her book.
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  • Emma Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great introduction to Queen Victoria for those who are looking to find out more about her life. Broken down into key days in over her life it cover events of significance in her personal and public life and encounters with other significant figures of the period. There is particular focus on her relationships with Prince Albert, her children and key servants. This isn't a work full of original resource, but it draws together lots of different aspects of Victoria's life and is very read This is a great introduction to Queen Victoria for those who are looking to find out more about her life. Broken down into key days in over her life it cover events of significance in her personal and public life and encounters with other significant figures of the period. There is particular focus on her relationships with Prince Albert, her children and key servants. This isn't a work full of original resource, but it draws together lots of different aspects of Victoria's life and is very readable.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This biography held my interest for the most part, the final three chapters dragged a bit for me. Worsely storytelling is quite compelling, a tad dramatic at times especially when I listened to the audiobook as well. Not a bad introduction to Victoria’s life (her parents’ life intrigued me most), though I can’t comment properly about Worsely’s historical analysis/interpretation of Queen Victoria’s life.
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  • Reading with Cats
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve always been fascinated by the Victorian era but have had a harder time with biographies of Queen Victoria herself. This one was a bit different. Instead of a detailed chronology, the author shares 24 snapshots of important events in the Queen’s life. I think this worked quite well here as there are an overwhelming amount of details available and a biographer (and reader) could easily get bogged down. A bit slow-moving at times, but I did enjoy this. 3.5 stars
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  • Ant Koplowitz
    January 1, 1970
    This was an easy read, much anticipated, but a tad disappointing. Lucy Worsley's take on the iconic Queen Victoria is the latest in a long line of books on one of the most written about monarchs. I was expecting more from Worsley, although not sure why. Perhaps it's simply that there isn't really anything much left to say about Victoria.
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  • Stuart
    January 1, 1970
    "...compounded of ravens plumes, blood and snow...""...widely known as coconut head...""...perfectly happy conversing with the dead...""...a cauldron in which the young princess was being slowly boiled..."
  • Jenny Parsons
    January 1, 1970
    Lucy Worsley’s writing appeals to me, her biography of Queen Victoria did not disappoint. A clear, entertaining and fascinating perspective on the Queen I knew less than I thought about.
  • Donald
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent biography concentrating on 24 key dates during Victoria's reign, written in her usual accessible style.
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    “Apologies for my regrettable tendency towards spending my time with dead people rather than having fun.”Lucy breezes over major historic events and context to provide us with a splendidly detailed portrait of a woman and her relationship with her family, friends, and the lens through which she saw the world.
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