- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: Pegasus Books; 1 edition (July 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1605983543
- ISBN-13: 978-1605983547
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 2.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy 1st Edition
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I would like to have been taught by him. He’s the most free-spirited of scholars. Shooting Victoria rambles uninhibitedly and learnedly through 19th-century history into literature, penology, constitutional theory and even ballistics, stimulating highly topical thoughts along the way. — John Sutherland (The New York Times Book Review)
Murphy recounts in a fresh, lively narrative how these deluded subjects managed to channel their mental instability or optimistic naïveté into assassination attempts. — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
In this delightful book, Murphy argues that the assassination attempts on the queen during her nearly sixty-four-year reign cemented her popularity, helping her create the modern monarchy. — The Christian Science Monitor
The pages slip by in this well-written new take on Victoria and her times. An enlightening study of Queen Victoria and her reign. — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
About the Author
Paul Thomas Murphy is the author of Shooting Victoria, a New York Times notable book. He holds advanced degrees in Victorian Studies from Oxford and McGill Universities and the University of Colorado, where he taught both English and writing on interdisciplinary topics. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.
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Top Customer Reviews
The long reign of Queen Victoria is well-documented, but, surprisingly, little has been written about the attempts on her life. Professor Murphy's book is here to fill in this void, by giving a more than vast panoramic view on the attempts on the Queen's life- eight of them, to be more precise. Most men who tried to kill the Queen were odd, bizzare, strange. Some of them wanted to assassinate Her Majesty in order to get public attention. Most of them disappeared back into anonymity. The best chapters, in my view, are the first seven,which also form the first part of the book,and which describe the case of Edward Oxford, the man who dreamt of being an admiral.
We are given a broad picture about his background, his family's problematic history of mental illnesses, his delusions, his mother's attempts to save her son, his incarceration and more. Murphy describes the life of Queen Victoria and her beloved husband Albert, as well as the judicial process and trial of Oxford.
Ditto for the rest of the book, which is not only about the various assassination attempts. It is a social history of England during the nineteenth century, naturally focusing on the underworld of Victorian England, the many scandals which accompanied this era, the political intrigues and the the English psyche at those times; people were willing to witness the many hangings of convicts. This was the entertainment mode for many.
Take, for example, the case of Arthur O'Connor, who wanted to take revenge on the Queen because of England's policies in Ireland. After being apprehended, he was to spend much of his time in a prison and then, after seeking Her Majesty's government help, was sent to Australia where he lived in various mental institutions under different aliases.
The Queen was "greatly helped by her assailants, who in deciding to take a pop at the Queen had no intention whatsoever to strenghthen the British monarchy, but who nevertheless gave Victoria seven golden opportunities to do exactly that", in Murphy's words. Hence the popularity of the monarchy which was constantly on the rise.
It was a pleasure to read such a refreshing and original book, a real gem in out times when most history books are badly written and researched and most of them are indeed boring, especially when written for academic purposes or audiences. Fortunately, this is not the case here. The author used a lot of primary materials from three continents and many archives, and his quick-paced, dynamic and lively style of writing illuminates an unknown aspect of Victorian England. In short: this volume is highly recommended. It is also unstoppable fun!
The Victorian Age nowadays has the reputation of being a quiet, fusty period in which nothing that wasn't decorous was allowed to happen. That is far from the truth, for the mid to late nineteenth century was a period of rapid change. Industrialization and imperialism led to massive social upheavals, and Victoria found herself at the center of it all as ruler of the most powerful nation and empire.
The eight assassination attempts on Queen Victoria all tended to fit a certain pattern. An unhappy, troubled man dealing with what today might be labeled schizophrenia, Tourette's, or various other disorders singled out the monarch as the source of his problems and made plans to assassinate her. Murphy does an excellent job detailing the early lives of the assassins and what motivated them to strike against the Queen. Each attempt is vividly described, so that it is easy for the reader to imagine what it must have been like to witness. Even though the subject matter is serious there are moments of humor, as when Victoria recognized a man who had just dealt her a severe blow to the head as a peculiar fellow who was always strutting around and making exagerratedly low bows when she went out. The reader also gains new admiration for Victoria's bravery, as she always refused to lock herself away after being shot at but instead insisted on riding out in public again as soon as possible.
Murphy places each attempt in the context of their time, linking them when possible to contemporary political issues, and notes that each attempt made Victoria even more popular than before. He describes the trials and ultimate dispositions of each of the attempted assassins, and gives us some fascinating information on their eventual fates. Victoria's understandable interest in the trials and her annoyance when the men weren't punished severely enough in her opinion are also interesting.
Victoria's assassination attempts were part of a pattern of political terrorism during the nineteenth century, and Murphy notes similar attacks that took place in other countries, including the assassinations of two US Presidents (in both of which Victoria took a great interest), the King of Italy, and the Empress of Austria. Shooting Victoria provides a new angle by which to view the always fascinating Queen and the society in which she lived, and deserves a place alongside the best of her many biographies.