January 10, 2004

Queen Victoria, by Lytton Strachey

I picked this book up for two reasons. One is that having read a great deal of the literature from the Victorian period in British history, I have never read anything about the actual monarch who lent her name to it. The other is that I spent an entire summer reading the diaries of Virginia Woolf once and Lytton Strachey figures prominently in the Bloomsbury group she was part of. His writing piqued my curiosity.

This is a nice little précis of the life of Victoria. It dwells on the personal side of her life and touches on the political less than I could have wished but all in all I found it enlightening. He also brings to the front the importance of Albert in British foreign policy and suggests that had he not died just on the eve of the American Civil War, the British policy towards the war may have been significantly different. His emphasis on the personal loneliness of Albert, an intellectual man married to a non-intellectual woman who adores him was also new to me. I had never given much thought to Albert as more than the man Victoria mourned for over half her life.

The book read well also. I was surprised at that since my take on the whole Bloomsbury group is that they were well above the general level of rest of us and wrote for themselves and Art as an abstract rather than for general consumption. To find a little gem like this was a treat. Now I have to go find a biography of Strachey to find out more about him than Virginia Woolf's sometimes catty observations in her diary.

Posted by Deb English at January 10, 2004 08:55 PM

David Fiore said:

Holroyd's bio of Strachey is pretty good Will.

And Strachey's Eminent Victorians is best of all!