When Queen Victoria died in 1901, two literary gentlemen took on a monumental task: selecting and editing her vast correspondence. The book they produced would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come – but it was not the full story.
The Queen’s two editors, Viscount Esher and Arthur Benson, were deeply eccentric men. Both old boys of Eton, they moved in a world of gentlemen’s clubs, passionate male relationships and hidden political networks. Benson, a schoolmaster and author, suffered badly from depression. Esher was a calculating and ambitious politician, a powerful puller of royal strings – and wrote incestuous letters to his son. Together, they would decide how the Queen was remembered.
Based on unprecedented access to the royal archives, Unsuitable for Publication reveals how key aspects of Victoria’s life were deemed unfit for public consumption: her experience of motherhood, her struggle to combine the roles of ruler and wife, and her intimate friendships with other royal European women. Yvonne M. Ward reveals how and why these excisions were made and how they have skewed our image of Victoria ever since.
Absorbing and original, this is a fascinating piece of historical detective work.