Wolfson History Prize judges: "It is hard to write something new and original about Queen Victoria, but Miles Taylor succeeds triumphantly. An engaging and impeccably researched account that throws fresh light onto the British Raj. Victoria will never seem the same after this."
Miles Taylor is better known as a historian of Chartism and Victorian radical politics generally, but this background comes in handy here, as he takes the queen out of court politics and into the popular arena, where she proves surprisingly at home. Throughout his compact, engaging book, Taylor emphasises ‘the agency of the queen’. She was never Melbourne’s puppet, and she did not become Disraeli’s either. In the process, we are made aware of the extreme oddity of Britain’s empire on the subcontinent and the peculiar impact that Victoria herself had on the way things went. She was by turns an evangelical zealot, an enthusiast for the expansion of her empire and a passionate humanitarian. But she was never quiet. In all her mutations she left her own mark on minds and events. It is not too much to say that this strange, self-educated, self-propelled little woman deserves a place among the makers of modern India.