Saturday, February 29, 2020

Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey

Queen Victoria
Lytton Strachey
English History 
Published 1921

When I began reading through the Well-Educated Mind, in 2012, I expected to purchase every book (used) on the list -- all 147 of them. Some books I was "lucky" enough to find at a used bookstore or the used book sale of my library, but most I ordered through used booksellers. It was important to have my own copy so I could write in it and keep it as long as I needed.

That got old quickly, and lately I have been borrowing them from the library. If it turns out to be a good book, something I know I would read again, then I may buy a copy later. Unfortunately, now that I am taking so long to write reviews, I have to return the book and no longer have any details to share. I suppose I need to take notes in the future.

Queen Victoria, 1839

Queen Victoria, by Lytton Strachey, is one that I borrowed from the library and read for my WEM histories. It was a decent read and quite informative. I really enjoyed my time in it, but since I returned it weeks ago, I can only  share my overall impressions.

For example, the book is well written -- a very pleasant read -- in chronological order, from the time of Victoria's birth (1837) until her death (1901). The narrative does not jump around, making it simple to follow. Her mother raised her to be an honorable and good girl, and Victoria made a promise to be a good queen. She was coronated Queen of the United Kingdom at the tender age of eighteen.

Soon after, she was encouraged to marry her cousin, Prince Albert, of "Germany," which she did reluctantly. But, WOW! Did she soon develop a change of heart! Victoria was so proud of her cousin-husband. Everything he said and did was right and good and perfect. She believed him to be intelligent and creative. She was enthusiastic about his ideas and how he assisted with running the State. Sadly for her, it was more like he was King than she was Queen.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1861

To complicate matters, life in England was evolving rather quickly, and the people (and Parliament) asked, "Why do we even need the Crown in the first place," as more and more power was transferred to the Prime Minister(s) and Parliament.

However, the most distressing change for Victoria was the loss of her husband, in 1861. Immediately following his death, she retreated from public and desperately worshiped her husband's image and his memory.

When she recovered herself, she felt a protective motherly approach to governing and caring for all those under her safekeeping. She even showed herself to be a little more feisty and assertive in her decision making. In the end, she kept her promise: to be a good queen.

After finishing this book, I was left with an impressive opinion of Queen Victoria. She seemed to be a great lady. I would love, love, LOVE to read her journals. Yes! She wrote...a lot! So I look forward to getting my hands on those in the future.

Family Portrait: Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their children

Should You Read This?

If you like biographies, biographies about great women, biographies about monarchs or royalty, biographies from the history of England or the United Kingdom, or you just like anything about Queen Victoria - and you have yet to read Stratchey's work - then yes, by all means, read this.


Silvia said...

It sounds interesting. I am always lacking at reading biographies, even though when I read any I usually love them.

I need to read more of your blog but how many of the 147 have you already read?

Ruth said...

Hi, Silvia, I have read 76/147 books so far. If you are using a laptop, you should be able to see my sidebar where I have an image for The Well Educated Mind Reading Challenge. If you click on it, you can see all of the books I have read so far from that project.

Paula Vince said...

This sounds like a great history/bio. I love how Queen Vic decided to be a good monarch from her youth. I'd love to read her journals too. Wow, I didn't know they existed. The Victorian era contains many of my favourite novelists :)

mudpuddle said...

Strachey is one of my favorite writers; he was a way of balancing sentences that makes them flow like water... it's addictive, as i discovered. i was forced into reading most of his books, altho it was a pleasant and fulfilling imposition, haha...

Ruth said...

PAULA: From some of the excerpts of her journals that Strachey uses, she seemed like a sweet, adoring, enthusiastic soul. She doted on her husband, so no wonder their union was called a romantic one. She just seemed so good at heart in her youth.

MUDPUDDLE: He is such a pleasant writer. What else have you read by him bc I would enjoy reading more of his biographies or histories, too.

Sherry Jolly said...

I'm torn between writing in the book itself and keeping a journal. I know my children will always remember me as a reader, and I try to think which would be best to pass along to them. Certain classics that I love I buy a beautiful copy to keep - so I hate to mar them. First world problems? lol This book sounds quite good and I would like to learn more about her, so I will add this to my ever-growing list!

Ruth said...

SHERRY: So what I do - since most of my books are used - is write in them or mark them up as I read. However, if I end up w/ a favorite, I will later purchase a nice copy to keep and never write in it. For example, I won't mark my Little House series. But I understand that writing in one's books is a personal matter. And I know about that ever-growing list, too. Not fun!

Carol said...

Hi Ruth, I've had trouble commenting so hopefully this works: I've been looking at a QV bio for my daughter for this year & this is one I'm thinking about. Would you recommend it for a 15yr old?

Carol said...


Ruth said...

Sorry you had trouble commenting. I need to check my spam folder. It's happened to me on other blogs, and it is because my comment went to the receiver's spam mail. So there's that.

Carol said...

Thanks for getting back to me, Ruth, I found an illustrated copy at the library.

Anglojen said...

Hi everyone!
I’m an audiobook narrator (Kate Reading), and I am publishing an audiobook of Strachey’s biography of Queen Victoria.
For those who like listening to audiobooks, here is a link:
I especially enjoyed his portraits of all the Prime Ministers: a fascinating look at British politics.
If you would like to learn more about my work, or contact me, my website is
And thank you, Ruth, for sharing your love of great books!

Ruth said...

ANGLOJEN: Thank you for sharing your resource with us. I will definitely take a look at it.