Victoria: The Queen

By Julia Baird
HarperCollins


Julia Baird

Judges' report


Victoria: The Queen brings into vivid focus a woman whose inner life was intense, sometimes volatile, and inseparable from the strategic exercise of European and colonial power. In Baird’s biography we meet a very young queen, faced with the challenge of guiding her nation at a moment in history that didn’t readily accommodate powerful women. We witness her, throughout her long reign, negotiating individual, national and colonial authority. As depicted by Baird, Victoria was a clever, ambitious woman who took advice from mentors, yet was also an emotional and controlling mother and a passionate wife. This is a rich and compelling biography, based on exhaustive archival research and replete with vibrant prose.

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Reviews:

‘To read this book is to see myths challenged, about Victoria, feminine rule, and the 19th century… Baird nails Victoria, with sympathy but not uncritically. There can be no higher praise.’ Lucy Sussex, the Sydney Morning Herald

‘Julia Baird’s exquisitely wrought and meticulously researched biography brushes the dusty myth off this extraordinary monarch. Right out of the gate, the book thrums with authority as Baird builds her portrayal of Victoria. Overturning stereotypes, she rips this queen down to the studs and creates her anew. Her queen is a pure iconoclast: emotional, demonstrative, sexual and driven… Baird writes in the round. She constructs a dynamic historical figure, then spins out a spherical world of elegant reference, anchoring the narrative in specific detail and pinning down complex swaths of history that, in less capable hands, would simply blow away.’ Priya Parmar, the New York Times

‘This volume is itself monumental, and like its subject a triumph of thoughtful discipline… an important and at times enthralling study.’ Margaret Harris, Australian Book Review

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