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Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire
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Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  3,966 Ratings  ·  600 Reviews
The extraordinary story of the world's most influential, intriguing and surprising ruler, Queen Victoria.

When Alexandrina Victoria was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 20 June 1837, she was 18 years old and barely five feet tall. Her subjects were fascinated and intrigued; some felt sorry for her. Writer Thomas Carlyle, watching her gilde
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Hardcover, 696 pages
Published November 22nd 2016 by Random House
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K.
4.5 stars.

Things I learnt from this book:
- Queen Victoria was THIRSTY. Like...T.H.I.R.S.T.Y. Homegirl reeeeeeeeally wanted the D. Her main concern when told that she should stop having children was basically "But I can still get laid, right??"
- When Albert died, Queen Victoria had marble replicas of his hands made and kept them by her bed. Read into that what you will.
- Queen Victoria was totally in favour of progression in society, unless it involved women. And yet she was the most powerful w
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Matt
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: BAM The Bibliomaniac
Shelves: audiobook, buddy-read
As Canada prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday, I felt it high time to look back and explore the life and times of our first monarch, Queen Victoria. Much of the country was either shaped or influenced by this British monarch, whose reign was only recently surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II. Julia Baird offers a thorough and thought-provoking biography of Victoria, exploring and dispelling many of the key events and stories that history have attributed to this 19th century wonder. Baird's prese ...more
DeB MaRtEnS
Queen Victoria's story has been well defined in this fascinating, well-rounded and researched biography by Julia Baird. Victoria Regina Imperatrix was the petite queen whose feet did not reach the bottom of the throne on the day of her coronation. Her daughters saw her beautiful smile, her husband enjoyed her strong libido and to her dismay she found herself in a cumbersome pregnant body for eight out of nine years running. Prince Albert was the man of the relationship and Victoria deferred in t ...more
Ashley Brooks
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
For me it's usually a gamble with long, historical biographies on whether or not they'll be dense and dull. Victoria: The Queen was definitely the opposite. Baird wrote an engaging, well researched and well rounded account of the woman who shaped an era. It's a shame that Victoria's journals and letters were censored so heavily, but I think Baird did an excellent job of uncovering the truth where she could, and making (clearly noted) educated speculation based on the information she had.

I highl
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Chrissie
This book covers Victoria's entire life from childhood to death, revealing both personal details about her personality, her life and her family as well as her influence on British and international politics and history. There is a large amount of British history detailed. One might not guess this from the book's title.

I particularly appreciate the simplicity and clarity by which, with just a minimum of detail, international and national controversies are summarized. Then, knowing the background
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Book Riot Community
It’s not often I’m able to read a nonfiction book in one sitting, much less a historical biography, but that’s just what happened with Julia Baird’s new biography of Queen Victoria. Baird writes beautifully, crafting a careful narrative around Britain’s second-longest reigning monarch. Her research is thorough, and she really provides the reader with a sense of what Victoria the woman and Victoria the queen were like. But most of all, this book is compulsively readable. Don’t let the 500+ pages ...more
Sam
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Overall, Victoria: The Queen is very well researched and has a flowing narrative style that makes it easy to engage with. We are treated to Victoria's own life chronologically, from an infant fifth in line to the throne to a passionate teenager thrust into rule, from the swooning love and contentment of her marriage to Albert, to her consuming grief and seclusion after his death, from the Widow of Windsor to her reemergence in politics and foreign policy. Above all, Julia Baird is able to refute ...more
Steven Z.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The current airing of PBS’ Masterpiece Theater of VICTORIA and its popularity has created great interest in the British monarch who ruled her kingdom and the world’s largest empire between her accession to the throne in 1837 and her death in 1901. The program is written by Daisy Goodwin who has recently published her novel VICTORIA a fictional account of the early years of Victoria’s reign. For a full and intimate biography Julia Baird has filled that void with VICTORIA: THE QUEEN which is an in ...more
Pamela
"Victoria's story is one of unmatched prestige and immense privilege, of defiance and crumbling, of meddling and mettle, of devotion and overwhelming grief and then, finally, a powerful resilience that defined the tiny woman at the heart of an empire. It is a surprising story of strength. What we have truly forgotten today is that Victoria is the woman under whose auspices the modern world was made."

There are not enough stars . . . FIVE is simply not enough. This is a biographical/history tome
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Rhi
A big thank you to Random House & NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in return for an honest review!

The publication of a new biography of Queen Victoria is very timely, considering that her record as the longest-reigning British sovereign was broken only last year by her great-great-granddaughter, Elizabeth II. It reflects on Victoria's entire life, highlighting the tumultuous events and debates that preceded her ascension to the throne, her disastrous first year as monarch,
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Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Julia Baird undertook an enormous task in researching and writing this extensive and highly detailed biography of England's second-longest ruling monarch. Queen Victoria's long reign was just eclipsed last year by her great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II.

Baird masterfully mixes stories of Queen Victoria's family life, relationships, political ambitions, failures, and triumphs. We learn the details of how Britain's system of government works, as the author explains how the Queen negotiat
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Michael Livingston
Maybe 3.5

To be honest, I'd never have picked up a ~800 page bio of Queen Victoria if it hadn't made the Stella Prize longlist. Am I glad that I did? I'm not sure. It's eminently readable and meticulously researched, but I think my enthusiasm for the royals is so lacking that even the perfect bio was going to leave me a bit cold.

I learned a lot that I didn't know - especially what an awful person Albert was - but I still felt like I came away a bit lacking in a real understanding of the person V
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Jamie Collins
Another biography of Queen Victoria. It’s very good, but can there be anything new to say?

This book has the agenda of dispelling the “myth” that Victoria “stopped ruling when Albert died, and that she had abdicated almost all of her authority and power to her clever husband when he was alive.” The author asserts that “Queen Victoria was a decisive ruler who complained of the weight of her work while simultaneously bossing prime ministers about daily, if not hourly.”

Most biographies focus on her
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Carolyn Harris
An engaging biography of Queen Victoria, which captures her personality and wide range of interests. Baird places Victoria in the context of her times, highlighting the social issues and changing attitudes toward women over the course of the 19th century. As a female Head of State, Victoria inspired other women interested in achieving a greater role in public life, even though she was personally opposed to women's suffrage and women joining a number of the professions. This focus on Victoria's i ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Few would have bet Victoria would become queen of the British Isles.’

Sub-titled an intimate biography of the woman who ruled an empire, this book seeks to portray the person of Victoria behind the myth that has arisen since her death. Myth? Many of Queen Victoria’s papers were destroyed or censored after her death, to preserve a particular image of her. In preparing this biography, Ms Baird has had access to previously unpublished papers. In a general note, at the end of the book Ms Baird state
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Judy Lesley
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english, biography
I received a print ARC of this book through the Amazon Vine Voices program.
I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley and Random House Publishing.

I have read many biographies of the life of Queen Victoria. What sets this one apart from all the others for me is the sense of intimacy Julia Baird has created between the subject and the reader. Some biographers seem to set out to only reveal the best sides of Victoria, some go in the opposite direction and focus on the negative aspects of he
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Jess
Whenever I read stuff about Queen Victoria, I am mostly reminded about how much I loathe Prince Albert. This is a man who essentially gaslit his wife into believing she was incompetent. Sure, he was a good pseudo king (besides the prudery, etc.), but instead of building his wife up and helping her be a better monarch, he just patted her on the head and went there there, women are stupid.

Albert sucks.

Regarding the rest of it, though, this is definitely a more complete picture of Victoria than I f
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Nina
It's a very good and detailed biography which accentuates the vulnerability of a woman beneath the strength she showed to the world. I most enjoyed reading about her relationships with her family and the other people in her life. As with any biography of a monarch, there's a lot of politics, which I never fully understand. Therefore I got a bit bored with the complicated relationships between countries and the wars that ensued. Mostly though it centered on her "feelings" about these situations a ...more
Feisty Harriet
4.5 stars, excellent read, although it dragged a bit for me towards the end. Victoria was a contradiction in so many ways and an absolute monarch in others, a queen who thought rights for women was ridiculous, a mother of nine who mothered according to the standoff-ish Victorian norms of her generation, devoted to her husband before and after his death, yet probably had lovers later in her life, although her children destroyed all her private papers that might allude to such a thing.

One quibble
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Nicole N. (A Myriad of Books)
Actual rating: 4.5 stars

It's no joke that I'm an Anglophile and huge fan of the current royal family. I love reading about royal families because they're quirky and sometimes downright crazy, but I find myself most intrigued by the British royal family, and Queen Victoria is one of my favorite queens to read about.

I've read a handful of small biographies about her life but each time, I learn something about her that I didn't know before and this was no exception. I haven't read all biographies
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Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As long as this book was, at about 500 pages of text and another hundred or so of notes, bibliography, and index, I was sorry to come to the end. It's a comprehensive biography of Queen Victoria, from childhood to her death, told chronologically, encompassing her actions as queen, and her personal life. It sounds completely conventional and yet I enjoyed every page.

Julia Baird, a historian, had access to some previously unexamined documents of Victoria and those around her, so there may be some
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Hannah
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, 2017, biography
I'm not usually a reader of biographies, but I LOVED this. Baird makes the story of Queen Victoria's life as engrossing and dramatic as a Bronte novel--whether Victoria is fawning over Albert's "delicate mustachios" or feuding with her nemesis Sir William Gladstone, she is revealed as a complex, entirely strange, yet compelling character who just so happened to rule an empire for over sixty years. Though she disapproved of women's suffrage and thought women the weaker sex, Queen Victoria's reign ...more
Amanda
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not something I'd usually pick up, but it came highly recommended.
It's an enormous tome of a thing, but so well researched and engagingly written that I had my nose in it for days.
This is a complete picture of a woman whose importance in history can't be underestimated, but who has always been portrayed as somewhat two dimensional. Baird shares Victoria's intimate family life, her personal life and her surprisingly active role in the politics of her century.
A wonderful read.
Erin Carrington
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gets 5 stars for holding my attention on a topic I've never had a shred of interest in. Going into this, I knew virtually nothing about British royalty. I have never gotten a single Jeopardy question right in this category. But this book, and Victoria's life, were extremely compelling. At the risk of grotesquely simplifying her story, what stood out to me is that she was a woman who had nine children despite hating pregnancy, fearing childbirth, and disliking newborns, and she experien ...more
Christine
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable biography of a queen I knew almost nothing about. There was so much more to this woman than I ever could have imagined. Thank you to the excellent PBS series Victoria for piquing my interest! Most interesting to me was to find out that Victoria wasn't the prude we've been led to believe at all. If anyone, Albert was the prudish one! This is a fascinating book that reads as easily as a novel and is so full of wonderful nuggets of history. Please note: it's only about 500 page ...more
Emma Rose Ribbons
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian
Wow, that was good. I devoured this biography in three days. It's so readable, Baird's writing style is incredibly easy to follow and very immersive. I felt as if everything was happening right before me. It's a very detailed account and it doesn't shy away from challenging topics (Victoria's relationships with various people her family deemed inadequate). Judging by the author's comments about how censured Victoria's diaries were after her death, it's astonishing that she managed to give such a ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
My initial instinct when I saw this book was "What more can we possibly learn about Queen Victoria?" Victoria and her family are one of my favorite subjects on which to read, but to be honest everything seems to be a rehash of everything else. But I came away from Baird's book pleasantly surprised! There are new new tidbits - I won't spoil - and Baird takes what I would call a feminist point of view on much of Victoria's life. She's proved beyond doubt (at least to me) that the Queen was a stron ...more
Anna
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating deeply researched look at a remarkably complex and powerful woman and very informative about the people, wars and political movements of Great Britain and the world during her reign.
Popsugar challenge 2017: a book with a title that's a character's name
Diana
Book received from NetGalley

This was a wonderful book about a very well-known, Queen of Britain. Victoria was a unique monarch who had quite a bit of tragedy in her life. Since she was so well-known it is difficult to find a biography with any new information on her. This one did have a bit, which is the main reason I gave it 4 stars. It is a wonderful read and I would have liked it even without the new material. It's very well written and researched, with a few items that could be considered sp
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Linda
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent biography of an extraordinary woman. I've read other books about Victoria, but enjoyed this the most, probably because I've now visited many of the places that are mentioned, including beautiful and very intimate Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The new PBS "Victoria" series seems to have peaked the interest of many, and while I watched the series myself, I urge others to read this heavily researched bio to learn the real story behind the wife, mother, and ...more
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Julia Baird is a journalist, broadcaster and author based in Sydney, Australia. She hosts The Drum on ABCTV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the International New York Times. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar.
More about Julia Baird
“Victoria’s head ached under a heavy crown, and her hand throbbed—the ruby coronation ring had been jammed onto the wrong finger; it was later, painfully, removed with ice. Around her stood her older male advisers, in a state of disrepair. Her prime minister was half-stoned with opium and brandy, ostensibly taken to calm his stomach, and he viewed the entire ceremony in a fog. Her archbishop, having failed to rehearse, jumbled his lines. One of her lords tumbled down the steps when he approached to kiss her hand. But Victoria’s composure was impeccable. Her voice was cool, silvery, and steady.” 4 likes
“It has been conservatively estimated that Victoria wrote an average of two and a half thousand words per day during her reign, a total of approximately sixty million words.” 4 likes
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