Victoria the Queen. An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled An Empire, by Julia Baird
Published 2016, 696 pages (including 35? of notes, bibliography and index).
This book was thoroughly enjoyable. It begins with a “list of characters” amongst maps and the family tree which suggests a play; and that’s the way it was written.
The style keeps the reader interested; plus the extensive background to the age helps understanding of why the characters did what they did.
Some of the issues discussed in the era are:
- Bad treatment of child workers (under 10 years old) in the mines, many had to crawl along the wet muddy ground of the mines to haul coal carts as adults were too large to do it.
- Lack of sanitation leading to disease. It was surprising to learn that Buckingham Palace was victim to this as well as the poor, with sewage leaking out in the kitchen.
- Very few rights for women (given that Victoria was female in such power you expect more would be fixed here).
- Treatment of women as chattels.
- No rights to house or children after divorce.
- No government voting rights.
A recent documentary Queen Victoria’s Children paints Victoria in a very dim light regarding her children. However in this book we learn that Victoria was fond of her children but refused to breast feed them as was common for the wealthy classes of the day. Her daughters were different here as well as in many other things including one who became an accomplished sculptor.
Victoria had a strong interest in politics, although when Albert was around this seems to have waned.
Overall an excellent and enjoyable read. Highly recommended.