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Queen Victoria

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This is the definitive biography of Britain’s greatest monarch, who “was hailed at once as the mother of her people and as the embodied symbol of their imperial greatness.” “One of the surpassingly beautiful prose achievements of our time” (Chicago Daily News). Index; illustrations.

448 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1921

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About the author

Lytton Strachey

148 books48 followers
Giles Lytton Strachey was a British writer and critic. He is best known for establishing a new form of biography in which psychological insight and sympathy are combined with irreverence and wit. His 1921 biography Queen Victoria was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

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5 stars
512 (26%)
4 stars
709 (36%)
3 stars
549 (28%)
2 stars
124 (6%)
1 star
46 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 189 reviews
April 10, 2022
Leída en el club de lectura de la pecera.

Es una biografía muy interesante de la reina Victoria, amena, fácil de leer, sencilla, para una primera toma de contacto está bien, pero sin más, se queda muy en la superficie.
Nos muestra a una reina perfecta, que magnifica, idolatra y casi santifica, con un marido de las mismas características, pero me ha faltado muchísima información, como madre, esposa y mujer, sus sentimientos, sus pensamientos, menciona de pasada una persona que la acompañó muchos años de su vida sin entrar en detalles, le falta contexto histórico, especialmente en la última parte de su vida y por último, finaliza la biografía de una manera muy abrupta.
Le falta un árbol genealógico y más detallada las relaciones familiares al inicio de la biografía, aún así, la primera parte está mejor que la última.

Es recomendable para conocer un poco más a este personaje, pero no vayas con grandes expectativas.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,264 reviews10.4k followers
May 28, 2012
This is not in Lytton Strachey's crafty and mordant biography but he would have seen this and smirked his head off. When Queen Victoria got married, the joke going round the gentlemen's clubs of Mayfair was about the honeymoon train. It would be setting out from Waterloo, passing through Virginia Water and Bushey until arriving at Maidenhead, leaving Staines behind.

(For those unfamiliar with the geography of the Home Counties, these are all small towns in the south of England.)

When the British throne is occupied by a female person, there is always a strange story behind it, because, obviously, that should never happen. For there to be a Queen, a lot of men have to have died. How Victoria got to be Queen was really most convoluted and unlikely but she did. She was the great transition between monarchs who actually did something to monarchs who just represented something.

I prefer them when they don't do anything at all, like Charles I after he was decapitated. They're the best sort.
Profile Image for Richard.
306 reviews15 followers
September 20, 2013
I found this a remarkable biography. It is quite short when one considers that it covers the longest reign in English History and the life of a monarch who lived 81 years. It works because Strachey focuses on the personality relationships that dominated that period--all of which centered upon the Queen. Thus we find chapters dealing with Lord Melbourne, Prince Albert (Chapters 4 through 6}, Lord Palmerston {in conjunction with the Prince Consort} Gladstone and Disraeli. In The central section the dominant character is Prince Albert and he is an enormously interesting character. While Strachey gives the Prince his due as an intelligent, clever man, he also presents him with considerable irony and implies that the early death of Albert was the best thing that could have happened to the Monarchy.

After his death the story of Victoria is rather quickly told. Here, Strachey merely sketches--perhaps purposely--some quite interesting moments, especially the strange relationship between the straight-laced Queen and her servant, the burly, impolite whisky drinker John Brown who became her favourite at Balmoral Castle.

There have always been rumours that Victoria secretly made a morganatic marriage with the Scotsman. When he died she seemed to regard his death as on a par with that of the Prince Consort. She filled the castle with mementos of him and even raised a life-sized statue in remembrance at Balmoral. Brown was hated by Victoria's son, who later became Edward VI. When he took the throne he eliminated all the mementos of John Brown and moved the statue to a nearly inaccessible part of the estate. You can still see it but it helps to get someone with local knowledge to guide you to the location.

But the relationship may not have had any actual romantic element at all. Another reason that Victoria had such an interest in John Brown was owing to the fact that he was psychic and was supposedly able to contact the Prince Consort during seances. If this is true, then it would explain a great deal--including the remarkable liberties the queen allowed in the conduct of John Brown.

Profile Image for John Anthony.
798 reviews110 followers
June 14, 2019
I’m not one of her most ardent admirers but as a conscientious Brit, aware of Her late lamented Majesty’s 200th birthday last month, it seemed appropriate to reach for Strachey’s volume which I had never managed to read. It is a little gem: highly readable and an excellent overview of the woman who was every inch (63 according to the Royal Archives) a Queen. She probably wouldn’t thank me for it, but whenever I think of a Queen, in all the many guises of Queenship, I think easily of Victoria. No one could flounce like her.

I loved Strachey’s gentle, witty style. (He knew a Queen when he saw one). It is sympathetic but never sycophantic: he paints the royal warts and all. A smothering childhood at the hands of a single, rather insecure parent, probably ill prepared her for the life ahead; her education was lacking, certainly. Queen at 18, bride at 20, mother at 21. Albert, her adored and gifted husband, in effect educated her during their 21 year marriage. The country owes him a great deal. He did much to put the ‘Great’ into GB and probably killed himself in the process. His widow would not, of course, allow us to forget.

There were other men in her life - on and off the national stage– here’s a flavour of Strachey: “after the long gloom of her bereavement, after the chill of the Gladstonian discipline, she expanded to the rays of Disraeli’s devotion like a flower in the sun.” “The strain of charlatanism, which had unconsciously captivated her in Napoleon III, exercised the same enchanting effect in the case of Disraeli”. He referred to her as “The Faery”, quoting Spenser of course. Lytton Strachey gives outrageous examples of this flattery and the heights of campness their relationship reached.

In old age she communicated tirelessly by letter with her vast family, “following with absorbed interest every detail in the lives of the ever-ramifying cousinhood.” to quote Strachey again.

Interestingly, she was left the bulk of the estate of John Neild, a Miser, who died in 1852. This amounted to £500,000 approx or around £65.5 million in today's money. So, a bit of a financial buffer for her I guess.

Recommended. 4*
Profile Image for Labijose.
1,018 reviews522 followers
January 24, 2018
Esta biografía fue publicada en 1921, apenas 20 años después del fallecimiento de la reina Victoria. El inglés utilizado es contemporáneo a la época, por lo cual, a los no nativos nos puede ralentizar algo su lectura. El autor sentó un precedente, creando un nuevo estilo de biografía, que ha perdurado hasta nuestros días.
Su lectura me ha parecido apasionante, aunque para mi gusto sobran referencias personales, y quizás falte una mayor contextualización de la época y los numerosos avatares políticos, militares y científicos por los que Inglaterra llegó a ser el Imperio más poderoso de la época. Una época de constante innovación, de revueltas callejeras, de hambrunas (sobre todo en Irlanda), de atentados contra la monarquía, de agitación política. En definitiva, una época de cambios sin precedentes que sentaron las bases de nuestra civilización actual.

El terreno emotivo y personal de Victoria está muy bien descrito. Su confinamiento de pequeña, la relación de amor-odio con su madre, las vicisitudes que la llevaron finalmente al trono, su enamoramiento con Albert, no exento de constantes enfrentamientos (En realidad, el rey consorte se consideraba a sí mismo por encima de la reina, ninguneándola en cuanto se le presentaba la ocasión), su terror a los embarazos, la dejadez para con sus 9 descendientes, el odio hacia su hijo “Berthie”, (que le sucedería en el trono como Eduardo VII), su aislamiento casi permanente tras quedar viuda, ….. En fín, una personalidad bastante incoherente para las funciones que le vinieron atribuidas, pero que supo sacar lo mejor de sí misma cuando la situación así lo requería. Una vida apasionante.

Completan la obra una bibliografía y un índice, así como unas cuantas ilustraciones. Es una biografía muy recomendable.
Profile Image for Dagmar1927.
36 reviews12 followers
March 3, 2011
I read this originally for historical purposes, just to see what all the fuss was about really in all the other biographies I'd read. However, I took it out of the library and couldn't put it down.

I loved Strachey's quiet exasperation of the Queen's somewhat questionable fashion sense at the state visit to Paris in 1855. It was the first time I'd read about such a reaction to her clothing and the slightly unnerving image of all that green and carnations was rather amusing. As was the profusion of rings and (of course) the giant gold poodle handbag.

I also found it extremely interesting how well Strachey wrote about Albert's death, especially as he wrote it before authors could use the Queen's diaries and a great deal of other sources to expand their knowledge. In fact, as he wrote 'Queen Victoria' in 1921, Princess Beatrice would still have been alive and still editing said diaries!

I would recommend this book to someone who is interested in Victoria, as it gives an amusing and concise history of her life without being too long or complicated.
Profile Image for Negin.
649 reviews150 followers
October 9, 2016
I had expected this free e-book to be a bit on the dry side. Although it was bit boring at times, most of it was fascinating and quite engaging. More than anything, the love between Victoria and Albert touched my heart.
Profile Image for Encarni Prados.
1,121 reviews82 followers
April 15, 2022
La narración es buena, no conocía la vida de la reina Victoria , aquí el autor la retrata muy bien, no solo su personalidad, sino también a su familia, y a su querido marido Alberto. Una reina que se ganó el hastío y también el cariño de sus súbditos en distintas épocas. Este es un buen libro para conocerla y no es aburrido ni cansino.
Profile Image for Carla.
80 reviews
July 5, 2011
Giles Lytton Strachey was an early 20th century writer and biographer who developed a reputation for writing biographies that dealt with individuals as people, rather than the events they were associated with. His 1921 biography of the British monarch, Queen Victoria, is a highly readable insight into this long-reigning queen.

Many public domain books can be slow to read, with language that is sometimes archaic when compared to contemporary writing. This is not the case with Strachey's work. Not only does it thoroughly cover Victoria's life from childhood to death, but it is an engaging read that explores Victoria's relationships, both personal and professional. I particularly liked reading of the love between Victoria and her husband, Albert, much of which is detailed in Victoria's journals and letters. I also enjoyed Strachey's turn of phrase and his ability to create such effective word-pictures of this fascinating monarch and her life.

If you have any interest in history or curiosity about British monarchs I think you will enjoy this book. I certainly did - far more than I expected to.
Profile Image for Shawn Thrasher.
1,876 reviews43 followers
May 23, 2013
For a book written and published approximately 90 years ago, this had a very modern feel. Strachey's biography certainly contains all the bones of Victoria's life; biographers writing after Strachey added meat, particularly the later years of Victoria's life and reign. Even Strachey has all the meat in the early years, up to the Prince Consort's death. I wonder if Strachey's biography set the narrative tone, created the Victoria story (so to speak) that future biographers all follow? I also assumed that one of the reasons the latter part of the biography was slimmer than the first half was that some of the players, including three of Victoria's children, were alive when this was published. I wonder what their reactions to the book were, or if they even read it? I had never read anything by Strachey before, and I always assumed his nonfiction was witty or catty or revolutionary, sort of like a Bloomsbury Mark Twain or Bill Bryson. But this was essentially a straightforward biography that could have been published today (we'd demand more sex though, I think, especially about a queen with nine children). Maybe publishing the biography of a beloved queen, when people still remembered her fondly (or otherwise) was revolutionary in the 1920s; it's certainly common place now.
Profile Image for Paola.
145 reviews33 followers
October 1, 2013
This very lively biography of Queen Victoria must be one of the best ads for republicanism I have come across: voluble, domineering, egotist, not well educated, her genuine concerns for her subjects appear rarely if at all. In most interactions she is surprised and disappointed by their failure to understand what she really means.
Why should birth confer privileges to such a person? She harasses her Ministers, she presses for war on one side then the other on a whim, she amasses a private fortunes drawing largely from the State coffers.
I am not in the position to judge how much of this account is biased and how much of it is backed up by evidence (e.g. how does Strachey know that Albert was sad and unsatisfied?) - putting this on one side, it is a very engaging book that for sure pictures a 3D image of Queen Victoria and her times.
Profile Image for Nooilforpacifists.
903 reviews49 followers
April 26, 2015
Remarkably un-snarky (given the author), except about Germans; incredibly moving (in part); hugely informative (throughout). I'm sure there are modern, more comprehensive bios, but this short work is a great starting point.
Profile Image for Kirja Vieköön!.
887 reviews65 followers
February 20, 2019
Vauvana isästään orvoksi jääneen Englannin kuningatar Viktorian (1819-1901) elämäntarina on huikaiseva ja hänen 63 vuotta kestäneen valtakautensa vaikutus historiaan suunnaton. Viktoriasta tuli valtavan Britti-imperiumin kuningatar vain 18-vuotiaana.

Strachey kirjoittaa aikansa korulausein (alkuteos ilmestyi jo 1921) ja siteeraa runsaasti Viktorian päiväkirjoja, joista ilmeneekin hyvin kuningattaren ryöpsähtelevä tunteikkuus. Eurooppa ja koko maailma kokivat valtavia muutoksia Viktorian hallituskaudella. Pitkät ja yksityiskohtaiset poliittiset selostukset olivat hiukan puuduttavia, mutta toki kiinnostavia.

Albertin kuoleman jälkeen Viktoria masentui, eristäytyi ja lopetti julkiset esiintymisensä. Viktorian mielen täyttivät vain rakkaan Albertin palvonta ja ne tavat, joilla hänen muistoaan voisi kunnioittaa.

Tervetullut ja mielenkiintoinen uusintapainos (Into 2019) historiasta kiinnostuneille.
Profile Image for Yasmin Halliwell Fraser Bower.
533 reviews66 followers
December 30, 2016
This is a short biography of Queen Victoria’s years in the throne. It starts with a little background of the line of succession and the circumstances that made her next in line. It basically centers in the first years of her reign, while she was in close relationships with Lord M. and then, with Albert. The years after Albert’s death are little known according to the author, so it was not well detailed. Also, the wars and political context wasn’t truly portrayed, it’s more a ‘private life’ biography and I really appreciated it because I wanted the whole picture.

The author is not impartial, you can see the opinions floating over there, but the actual thing that I disliked about the book was that it jumped to situations not telling the exact date and then went back a decade to explain another thing. Give me a timeline, people. So, I had to download one in order to fully follow the development of things. And, what's up with not adding the transcripts of german and french phrases? Come on. Was it just my copy?

All in all, it was a great book to understand the global lines of events and characters of the time and it had little color details about their lives and personalities that made it better. It definitely made me want to read more about Victoria and Albert’s relationship because in the movies is too vanilla and investigating you can see that there were more tough times and hard choices, and that they were like a fusion of power more than two different individuals. I would really like to dig deeper there, I’m actually checking out books about it.

I would recommend readers to see a movie or know a little of the history before reading the book because it can get confusing otherwise. All in all, it was pretty enjoyable and interesting so I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Alana.
110 reviews4 followers
November 2, 2010
After seeing The Young Victoria, I became very interested in reading more about her. Apparently, she fell for Albert practically on sight and didn't need much persuasion to get married at all! I wanted to know about her family life the most but there isn't much of that in this book. Albert was extremely private and so it doesn't surprise me much. There is a lot of speculation about how Albert felt about his situation but again I don't know how much to believe since most of it is observation.

This book goes a lot into the political changes Victoria went through and how stressful to her it was. She could be very dependent on those prime ministers she liked and practically went to pieces when they lost their elections. There is great detail about Albert's Great Exhibition which sounds like it would have been very exciting to see during that time. I don't think I'll read this book again since it is pretty dry but I'm glad I did.
Profile Image for Mary Rose.
543 reviews113 followers
June 19, 2016
I don't understand why you would chose to write a biography of a person you clearly cannot stand. Strachey is a beautiful prose writer but cannot conceal his contempt for Victoria and chooses instead to write about everyone around her--prime ministers, advisers, male relatives, and Prince Albert, who Strachey has a massive man-crush on. In this characterization Victoria comes across, no more or less, than a silly, meek, stupid woman who has to be steered by all the men around her, except when she is childishly stubborn and refusing to listen to their Correct and Good counsel. Probably good for Victorian historians who know better and want to get a grasp of the historiography, but everyone else steer clear.
Profile Image for Eric.
574 reviews1,169 followers
August 5, 2008
4 stars for the first 80 pages - 3 stars for the rest. Strachey's gossipy prurience makes him a superb narrator of the court intrigue, the royal dissipation, the machinations of succession that begin Victoria's story. But things lagged after the marriage: I guess the sprightliest of historians can't do much with Albert's flood of memoranda, Victoria's flood of children. I was hoping that Prince Edward, trailing an entourage of mistresses, might take the stage for a while, but he's dealt with in just a short allusion. I wasn't bored--but I no longer grudged every minute spent away from the book. Still, Strachey's presentation of her widowhood and pack-rat senility is very moving.
Profile Image for Leonardo.
721 reviews38 followers
August 3, 2009
Una excelente biografía de un personaje clave de la historia inglesa y europea del siglo XIX. El estilo literario de Strachey es de una ironía deliciosamente sutil que no se rebaja a hacer leña del árbol caído, sino que logra retratar las complejidades de toda una época, a través de la figura de la reina Victoria. Curiosamente, algunos de los capítulos más interesantes resultan ser aquéllos en que Victoria es eclipsada por su esposo.
Profile Image for  Cookie M..
1,238 reviews137 followers
January 21, 2021
A very readable and enjoyable biography of Queen Victoria. It is in the public domain so you can read it for free.
Profile Image for Carol Bakker.
1,274 reviews93 followers
March 16, 2021
Four words that won me, page 391: Her grandchildren adored her.

Any biography of Victoria is necessarily one of Prince Albert: how she declared no interest in marrying her cousin (the same midwife assisted at both births!!!), how she changed her mind, how passionate and fierce was her love for him, how despondent his early death made her.

It was fun reading this at the same time as a book on decluttering. Victoria's fixation with the past was so strong that she gave orders that nothing could be thrown away. Every dress, every toy, every paper, every basket, every picture, every accessory. Quelle horreur! An adjunct to this was that every anniversary was marked either by celebration or lamentation.

I've always heard that Strachey's biography was very readable. It's true. My interest never flagged. Now I'm interested in reading Queen Victoria's Highland Journals, waiting for me on my nightstand.
Profile Image for Ricardo.
Author 5 books11 followers
November 4, 2009
No se si estoy leyendo la vida de Victoria o la de Alberto... tremendo como escribe este hombre. Parece que lo hubiera redactado ayer...

Victoria: vida larga y fructifera: poblaste de herederos a las casas reinantes europeos casando a tus innumerables hijos pero no soñaste con que los primos hermanos iban a enfrentarse en la primera guerra. En fin..., muy llevadero, muy poco biopic. Se me reveló un personaje completamente distinto a la idea que yo tenía de Victoria y su tiempo. Formidable el capítulo "Ancianidad", en el que Mr. Strachey devela a la reina que lo supo gobernar. No hay ninguna data de los archivos a los que pudo acceder, lo cual es una pena.

Pésima la calidad de las reproducciones de El Ateneo. Fotos guarangamente pixeladas y descoloridas, una berretada mayúscula. Hubiera sido piola incluir un árbol genealógico al final. El personaje y su descendencia se lo merecen.
Profile Image for K..
888 reviews120 followers
April 30, 2014
The three stars are only for "liking it" not for its inherent merit. Read like a slightly gossipy novel, which was nice, kept the flow and readability going.

Written by the interesting Strachey, founding member of the Bloomsbury Group (a group of writers which included Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and others).

Daughter is "being" Queen Victoria for a school project, audience to ask biographical questions. Needed to have some questions to ask, thus this reading, which isn't my usual fare.

However, found it fascinating, she was quite a character. I know that this early biography has been somewhat set aside as an antique and incomplete picture of the woman, it was still fun to read and informative.
Profile Image for Emma.
5 reviews2 followers
September 11, 2011
This book should be renamed "The Terribly Interesting and Important Men Around Boring Old Queen Victoria" because it focuses so little on the queen herself, and so much on her masculine advisers and keepers. It's still a worthwhile read, however, thanks to the author's Victorian tone and delivery. I love when a biography presents as much information in its narration as it does in its actual observation, and Strachey's crinoline and table-skirt style pull the reader tightly into the era. "Queen Victoria" is history in high-necked haberdashery, political and foreign commentary, and a surprisingly tender and enduring love story, all in one.
Profile Image for Phyllis.
251 reviews
December 4, 2016
Written in 1921, this biography of Queen Victoria is well-researched and annotated. The prose is educated and quite British, which makes for interesting reading today. I enjoyed the wording, the adjectives, and the subtle allusions.

The focus of this biography is definitely the incredible bond Victoria had with Albert. Theirs is a story of duty, love and committment.

If you are up for a 'dated', charming and well-written bio of the great Queen Victoria, please add this to your list. You will not regret it.
Profile Image for Grace.
307 reviews11 followers
March 27, 2017
I happened to see the movie The Young Victoria and my curiosity grew. I had little idea about the life of this monarch except that some of my favorite literature was written during her reign. I also wondered if the events in the movie had been exaggerated. What a surprise to find that most of the movie was actual events in this book.

I loved that so many of the influences on both Victoria and Albert were people who encouraged them to be moral and careful leaders, using their power for good. A truly enjoyable history even if I didn't understand all the political topics of their day.
Profile Image for José Van Rosmalen.
1,043 reviews19 followers
August 9, 2022
Ik weet dankzij dit boek nu meer van Victoria en haar echtgenoot Albert. Ze doet me denken aan koningin Wilhelmina, ook niet zonder vooroordelen en met autocratische trekken, maar wel wat je noemt een karakter. Ze had het niet altijd makkelijk, vooral niet toen haar echtgenoot overleed en zij weduwe werd. Victoria zat ruim zestig jaar op de troon en haar regeerperiode wordt wel eens het victoriaanse tijdperk genoemd. Het boek is niet alleen een biografie maar geeft veel historisch inzicht. Een aanrader.
Trefwoorden: geschiedenis, Brits koningshuis, 19e eeuw.
17 reviews
November 18, 2011
Half way through the reading of this tome (original 1921 hardcover)I stopped and noted how amazing the writing of this author was... poetic, flowing and beautiful... so nice. An absolutely wonderful book! I see now what all the fuss about Strachey's writing was... an easy, breezy, flowing narrative of an amazing life, of an amazing human, who was actually very, very human indeed. Beautifully done.
Profile Image for Anais Maria.
64 reviews
August 7, 2016
Such a short book for one of the most important monarch in history. Of course, instead of focalising the biography on Victoria itself, her diaries etc the authors chose to introduce her through all the men defining her life. Basically if you just want to scratch under the surface of Victoria's life try another book
Displaying 1 - 30 of 189 reviews

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