The Queen and I


It was a rainy evening in New York.  For some reason we always seem have an added weather attraction joining us for Library events—a Northeaster blowing (Philip Hook at Sotheby’s), a crashing and banging thunderstorm (Young Churchill at the Knick), and this time lots of rain, not snow, thank goodness!

Our evening with Daisy Goodwin, titled “The Queen and I,” was a smash hit, in spite of the weather.  We had a capacity crowd in the Reading Room at the Knickerbocker Club, around 100 members and guests, followed by a Founders’ Circle dinner in the Library for 40.

Our Chairman, Sir Howard Davies was with us for the evening, as was Trustee Sven Becker, who has just moved to New York with Christie’s and Philip Spedding, Development Director of the Library.

Daisy told us the story of her early acquaintance with Queen Victoria as a child growing up in London, gazing  at the stern marble features of Victoria, in statues all over town. “Victoria to me was an old bag in a bonnet, permanently dressed in black, who took no pleasure in anything!”

Once at Cambridge, at age 19, studying under David Cannadine, (fellow London Library member), and deep into Victoria’s Diaries as part of her course work, she found another Victoria, also age 19.  She was commenting on the fact that” Prince Albert had no underwear on under his cazimere pantaloons!!”

“I was in University Library at Cambridge, and let out a hoot of laughter, to a chorus of shushes all around me. This was not at all the Victoria of my childhood.  She was not a grumpy old bag at all, but a passionate teenager who liked music, dancing, dogs, and last but not least, men.  She was, I have to say, a girl after my own heart.”

Daisy ‘s talk was interspersed with brilliant readings from Victoria’s early Diaries (1837-9) by Clemmie Evans, a young Welsh actor.  The talk was also worked around clips from the television series “Victoria,” ably screened by Philip Spedding.

Daisy wrote both the novel and the screenplay in “the gloriously Victorian confines of the London Library,” finding all sorts of inspiration in the stacks, including Victoria’s  “Diary of Royal Movements,” her detailed social schedule for the first 10 years of her reign.  In it she found all sorts of interesting snippets, like Victoria’s solo rescue of Albert when he broke through the ice while skating on a palace lake.

Luckily for us, Daisy is off back to London to work on Series 2!

“I will be going straight to he London Library on Thursday and sitting down at the Library to write about Victoria’s effort to deal with the dilemmas that so many women face today–how to combine a demanding job with motherhood—only she, of course, had a lot more help.

It is a great pleasure to be here supporting an institution which began in the reign of Victoria but which manages to have the most state of the art search engine! The England of Victoria’s time was a potent mix of tradition and innovation, and I think the London Library manages to keep that mixture”.