Queen Victoria on the penny black
All the personal journals of Queen Victoria have been launched online by Her Majesty The Queen today, thanks to a partnership between the Bodleian Libraries, the Royal Archives and information company ProQuest.
The collaboration has made the private records of one of the world’s most influential public figures available for public access for the first time.
The journals span Victoria’s lifetime and consist of 141 volumes numbering over 43,000 pages. They have never been published in their entirety and were previously only accessible by appointment at the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle.
Queen Victoria was a prolific writer and recorded her thoughts and experiences almost daily, starting with her first entry as a young girl of 13 and continuing until just weeks before her death in 1901.
Throughout her journals, her pride and passion for her country are revealed. She writes: ‘I really cannot say how proud I feel to be the Queen of such a Nation’ (28 June 1838). She writes about her travels across Britain detailing her views on the North-west, Black Country, Wales and Scotland, where on a visit to the Invertrossachs: ‘the romance and wild loveliness … beloved Scotland the proudest, finest country in the world’ (2 Sept 1869).
The journals expose the challenges of duty, as when she writes: ‘So much to do, so many boxes, letters, business…’ (26 February 1862). They also reveal the impact of world events when she reflects on the Franco-Prussian War, where she notes: ‘I ended this dreadful year of bloody conflict in no cheerful mood’ (31 Dec 1870).
Finally, the journals give insight into many personal experiences showing an unexpectedly intimate side to Queen Victoria. She writes of her early romance with Prince Albert: ‘He clasped me in his arms, and we kissed each other again and again!’ (10 Feb 1840), and describes giving birth: ‘A boy was born, to great happiness to me. Snow administered ‘that blessed Chloroform’’ (the birth of Prince Leopold, 22 April 1853). Later in life she describes the loneliness of widowhood: ‘Here I sit lonely and desolate, who so need love and tenderness’ (10 March 1863).
Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian said: ‘This initiative is a highly engaging and significant partnership across three organizations for the benefit of public and scholarly access to fascinating historical documents, and has been made possible with the support and generosity of Oxford benefactors The Polonsky Foundation and The Zvi and Ofra Meitar Family Fund.’
David Ryan, Assistant Keeper of the Royal Archives said: ‘The virtue of digital access is its ability to reveal the thoughts of Queen Victoria to millions around the world, providing them with a record of the important political and cultural events surrounding a monarch whose name defined an age.’
The Queen Victoria’s Journals website is mobile-compliant and can be viewed from all iPhones, Blackberry and Android phones. The website is supported by a Facebook page and Twitter account.