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A sparkling portrait of the court of Queen Victoria, seen through the lives of her household using never-seen-before diaries and letters

About the Author

After leaving Oxford University Kate Hubbard worked variously as a researcher, a teacher, a book reviewer and a publisher's reader. She currently works as a freelance editor. Her first book, A Material Girl: Bess of Hardwick 1527-1608, was published in 2001, followed by two children's books - biographies of Charlotte Bronte and Queen Victoria. Her most recent book, Rubies in the Snow, is the fictionalised diary of Anastasia Romanov, youngest daughter of Russia's last Tsar. Kate divides her time between London and Dorset.

Reviews

"Kate Hubbard's entertaining book.is a fine examination of both the bizarre and the banal in the domestic machinery of Victoria's court" Observer "Hubbard would have made a good courtier: her prose is polite, her insight into the tangled relationships of the household impressive. Her achievement is to enter a sealed world, ruled by repetition, and make it compelling (5 stars)" Telegraph "Hubbard can be delightfully waspish about life at court, and has produced from the most unpromising of raw material a book that is both eye-opening and thoroughly engaging" Sunday Times "Entertaining account of the royal household.the change of perspective brought about by taking such figures out of the background and into the spotlight is revelatory" Country Life "Entertaining portrait of Queen Victoria...having plundered a rich vein of fascinating and often new information, Hubbard shows that serving Victoria was no doddle" -- Val Hennessey Daily Mail

Drawing on letters and diaries, Hubbard (Queen Victoria) follows six courtiers who served Queen Victoria during her 63-year reign as they chafe under the constraints of court life, dine and travel with the Queen, and even indulge in the occasional joke at her expense. Kindly Sarah Lyttelton, supervisor of the nursery, witnessed a monarch who compulsively controlled those around her and even saw children as an impediment to her life with Prince Albert. Beautiful, intelligent Charlotte Canning, lady of the bedchamber and an accomplished watercolorist whose work Victoria appropriated for her souvenir albums, found court life a welcome respite from her humiliating marriage. Spirited feminist Mary Ponsonby, maid-of-honor, found the Victorian court to be "ludicrously bourgeois and exceedingly dull," while her modest husband Henry masterfully played the Queen's complex and contradictory character to his advantage. Later in life, Victoria was outraged when her easygoing, gregarious doctor, James Reid, decided to marry; and sympathetic chaplain Randall Davidson also angered her when he counseled against publication of her inappropriate memoir of her deceased servant, John Brown. Although hardly controversial, this is an engrossing and fresh view of Britain's longest-reigning monarch and day-to-day life at the Victorian court. 16 pages of illus. and photos. Agent: Georgia Garrett, Rogers, Coleridge & White. (U.K.) (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"Lady of the bedchamber," "Superintendent of the nursery," "Maid-of-Honour," and "Resident Medical Attendant" were some of the positions in Queen Victoria's court household. As impressive as these titles might sound, those ladies and gentlemen of the lesser aristocracy who filled them did so largely out of a sense of duty. Life in the royal household is described as "miserable," made up of "stiff dinners, ditch water and cold bedrooms." One of the queen's doctors became such a "hopeless" alcoholic he was persuaded to resign. A lady of the bedchamber, Lady Jane Ely, desperate to leave after years of devoted service and with her health broken, was roundly told that "Lady Ely's health and well being were of little consequence beside those of the Queen." She could not be spared, though it was "killing her." It is a testament to Hubbard's talent that she manages to convey why Victoria's household remained devoted to a monarch they all recognized as a selfish woman who did very little work. VERDICT Readers interested in the Victorian era and the British royal family will enjoy this well-written and remarkably interesting account of the "woeful dullness" and "loneliness" of life inside Victoria's court.-Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., MA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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