In an essay read to fellows and members of the Royal Society of Literature in 1972, Giles St Aubyn said that on average Queen Victoria wrote about 2,500 words every day of her adult life, achieving a total of some sixty million in the course of her long reign. If she had been a novelist her complete works would have run to seven hundred volumes, published at the rate of one a month. To her eldest daughter alone she wrote at least twice a week, and sometimes twice a day, for over forty years. Much of this material has been published in the various books mentioned in the preliminary note to the References on page 503. There remain at Windsor, however, many letters both to and from Queen Victoria which have never before been printed; and in 1983 the late John Murray and I were kindly allowed to consult these papers and to reproduce parts of them in a selection published under the title Queen Victoria in Her Letters and Journals. I have to acknowledge the gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen for their publication as I do for the publication of all the other material of which she holds the copyright. I have been deeply indebted for their help to Sir Robin Mackworth-Young and Miss Jane Langton, Her Majesty's former Librarian and her Registrar of the Royal Archives, and to Mr Oliver Everett, the Queen's present Librarian at Windsor.
For their help in a variety of other ways I also want to thank Marian Reid, who edited the book, Juliet Davis, who helped me choose the pictures, Richard Johnson of HarperCollins, Bruce Hunter of David Higham Associates, John Kemmeer and Don Fehr of the Perseus Books Group, Dr Francis Sheppard, Captain Gordon Fergusson, John Paton, Margaret Lewendon, Richard Way, Diana Cook and the staffs of the British Library, the Bodleian Library, the London Library and the Ravenscroft Library, Henley-on-Thames. Hamish Francis and Ursula Hibbert have been good enough to read the proofs, and my wife has made the comprehensive index.
Finally I must say how grateful I am to Professor Paul Smith for having read the book in typescript and for having given me much useful advice for its improvement.