Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

62
BOOKS

'I have nearly finished reading Corleone to the Queen
and she has been as much thrilled by the story
as if she were a girl of 18!'

ONE EVENING AT BALMORAL when the Empress Frederick was staying there the conversation at dinner turned to the novels of Marie Corelli which the Queen, like Mr Gladstone, much admired, maintaining that their author would rank as one of the greatest writers of her time. Her daughter, however, contended that they were utter tripe and, in a loud voice, sought support for this opinion from Frederick Ponsonby who was sitting at the far end of the table and had not heard the opinions expressed so far. Ponsonby contended that, while her books undoubtedly had a large sale, the secret of her popularity was that her writings appealed to the semi-educated. Whereupon the Empress clapped her hands and the subject dropped with startling suddenness.' 1

Although she was by no means intellectual, the Queen was far from being as ill-read as was often supposed: Frederick Ponsonby averred that her taste in literature was 'said to be deplorable' and that 'she never liked the works of the great authors'. Yet her letters and journal entries contain numerous references to worthwhile books she had read, many of which she claimed to have admired or enjoyed.

She had been warned against reading novels as a girl; and in later life she confessed to feeling rather guilty when reading fiction. 'Read in [ Bulwer Lytton] Eugene Aram for some time while my hair was doing,' she had recorded in her diary in December 1838, 'and finished it; beautifully written and fearfully interesting as it is, I am glad I have finished

-477-

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Queen Victoria: A Personal History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Author's Note and Acknowledgements xv
  • Queen Victoria's Prime Ministers xviii
  • Part One - 1819-1861 1
  • 1 - The Family 3
  • 2 - The Parents 9
  • 3 - The Child 17
  • 4 - Conroy 25
  • 5 - Progresses 30
  • 6 - Uncles 41
  • 7 - The Young Queen 53
  • 8 - Melbourne 60
  • 9 - Coronation 70
  • 10 - The Hastings Affair 76
  • II - A Pleasant Life' 85
  • 12 - A Headstrong Girl 90
  • 13 - German Cousins 98
  • 14 - Prince Albert 107
  • 15 - The Bridegroom 111
  • 16 - Honeymoon 120
  • 17 - Robert Peel 130
  • 18 - The Prince and the Household 137
  • 19 - Royal Quarrels 148
  • 20 - Osborne 157
  • 21 - Travelling 165
  • 22 - Balmoral 175
  • 23 - The Prince of Wales 183
  • 24 - Palmerston 193
  • 25 - Chartists 199
  • 26 - Pam is Out 204
  • 27 - The Great Exhibition 210
  • 28 - Scenes 216
  • 29 - Crimean War 221
  • 30 - Napoleon III 230
  • 31 - The Princess Royal 238
  • 32 - Indian Mutiny 248
  • 33 - The German Grandson 256
  • 34 - Death of the Duchess 264
  • 35 - The Disappointing Heir 268
  • 36 - Death of the Prince 276
  • Part Two - 1861-1901 283
  • 37 - The Grieving Widow 285
  • 38 - Seances and Services 293
  • 39 - Princess Alexandra 298
  • 40 - The Recluse 307
  • 41 - Disraeli 314
  • 42 - John Brown 321
  • 43 - The Royalty Question 331
  • 44 - The Princely Pauper 338
  • 45 - Typhoid Fever 342
  • 46 - Maids-Of-Honour 349
  • 47 - Secretaries and Ministers 353
  • 48 - Regina Et Imperatrix 360
  • 49 - The Half-Mad Firebrand 367
  • 50 - Golden Jubilee 379
  • 51 - Die Engländerin 384
  • 52 - The Daughters 391
  • 53 - The Sons 396
  • 54 - The Grand Children 414
  • 55 - Would-Be Assassins 420
  • 56 - Holidays Abroad 428
  • 57 - Death of Brown 440
  • 58 - The Munshi 446
  • 59 - Diamond Jubilee 455
  • 60 - Life at Court 461
  • 61 - Dinner Parties 468
  • 62 - Books 477
  • 63 - Bookmen 481
  • 64 - Failing Health 484
  • 65 - Death 492
  • 66 - Funeral and Burial 495
  • References 503
  • Sources 523
  • Index 535
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