Today is Victoria Day in Canada! For anyone who doesn’t know, Victoria Day is the third Monday in May and is a public holiday (woo-hoo long weekends!). It’s also the day that Canada officially celebrates the Sovereign’s birthday. (Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!) Although an era was named after her, I don’t know that most people actually know that much of her. In honour of the monarchy and Queen Victoria, I’ve decided to share some of my favourite books about Victoria herself- she was a compelling monarch and she makes for a very interesting read!
Becoming Queen Victoria, Kate Williams
I think that I will always have found memories of this book, I read it on the train to and from York on my 2015 trip. There’s something about reading history while passing through the places where it happened… Williams’ book starts with Victoria’s aunt, Princess Charlotte, who should have been Queen- I find Charlotte to be a fascinating figure that is often forgotten, odd given how much of an impact she had on Victoria. Williams traces the effect that Charlotte’s life and death had on Victoria, and how it shaped much of her early reign and choices. This is a fairly fast read, and Williams has an easy to read style, perfect for an afternoon at home!
Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household, Kate Hubbard
If you have any inkling of knowledge of the Victorian period, you probably think of buttoned up ladies, top-hatted gentleman, and a rigid structure in society. Well, Kate Hubbard’s book will give you insight into just what those who worked for and with Victoria on a daily basis went through. (If you are thinking she was a boss who let you work from home when you wanted and had google nap pods, I hate to be the bearer of bad news….) Victoria kept volumes and volumes of diaries that give us immeasurable details into her life, but we have far less information on those who served her. This is a insightful look into their lives!
This was actually the first book I read about Victoria specifically, and it’s a longer read but so very interesting! Victoria is known for being the grandmother of most European aristocracy- her children, particularly her daughters, are how that happened. Five of her nine surviving children were women and although they had similar childhoods, they took very different paths in adulthood. Vicki, Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice are interesting women in their own right (and I can recommend quite a few biographies for the sisters), and this is a wonderful examination of their relationship with a very complicated mother.
Image via PBS
Bonus: Victoria, ITV/PBS
If you aren’t in the mood to read, I can’t recommend Victoria enough. It is a beautifully shot mini series, with Jenna Coleman taking the lead as Victoria. This series covers the beginning of her reign to her first pregnancy, and while being fictional is still worth a watch!
Canadians, what are you up to for Victoria Day? And everyone else, what are your impressions of Queen Victoria?