Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

William Shawcross

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore, was born on 4 August, 1900. It might reasonably have been expected that she would lead a life of ease and privilege but few could have imagined the profound effect she would have on Britain and its people. Her life spanned the whole of the twentieth century and this official biography tells not only her story but, through it, that of the country she loved so devotedly. Drawing on her private correspondence and other unpublished material from the "Royal Archives", William Shawcross reveals the witty girl who endeared herself to soldiers convalescing at Glamis in the First World War; the assured young Duchess of York; the Queen, at last feeling able to look the East End in the face at the height of the Blitz; the Queen Mother, representing the nation at home and abroad throughout her widowhood. 3.2 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography
Format Hardback
Pages 1000
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication September 2009
ISBN 978-1405048590
Publisher Macmillan
 

Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore, was born on 4 August, 1900. It might reasonably have been expected that she would lead a life of ease and privilege but few could have imagined the profound effect she would have on Britain and its people. Her life spanned the whole of the twentieth century and this official biography tells not only her story but, through it, that of the country she loved so devotedly. Drawing on her private correspondence and other unpublished material from the "Royal Archives", William Shawcross reveals the witty girl who endeared herself to soldiers convalescing at Glamis in the First World War; the assured young Duchess of York; the Queen, at last feeling able to look the East End in the face at the height of the Blitz; the Queen Mother, representing the nation at home and abroad throughout her widowhood.

Reviews

The Economist

The Economist

Mr Shawcross ... offers no big revelations about the queen mother. But he has had unrestricted access to her personal papers, letters and diaries, and he has mined them diligently. The result is a rich portrait of a woman who devoted herself to her duties and to bolstering her nervous husband and soothing his rages, known as “gnashes”... Although the book is too heavy to hold comfortably for long, Mr Shawcross is right to have quoted extensively from her private letters, which reveal her anguish over the abdication and are often surprisingly funny.

17/09/2009

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The Independent

Matthew Dennison

He soft-peddles her animosity towards the Duchess of Windsor and excuses her lifelong resolve to avoid unpleasantness as proof of that determined optimism which contributed to her life-enhancing qualities. He succeeds in the difficult task of keeping his subject resolutely centre-stage in an elegant account which, though overlong, avoids being overwhelmed by those hoary old chestnuts, the Abdication Crisis, the war and the failed marriages of three of her six grandchildren. But is it disingenuous that the Duchess of Cornwall makes a single appearance – as the wife of Andrew Parker Bowles at a house party in 1973?

25/09/2009

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The Daily Mail

A.N. Wilson

Could Shawcross have boiled down some of the duller royal tours? Yes. And, paradoxically, there is not enough about her passion for the Turf. He tears through the final years at a pace which is too hectic. But in a book of this size and scope something had to give and, on the whole, he is to be congratulated for selecting so many juicy titbits from that preternaturally 'oyster' (a Queen Mother adjective) source, the Royal Archives.

23/09/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Sarah Bradford

Hers was a long life worth celebrating and Shawcross has done it admirably in this well-written book. If anyone thinks official biography is a cushy job, they should read this. There are hidden, self-imposed constraints and it shows. My only real criticism is that it is too long and at 4lbs 5oz (yes, I weighed it), physically too heavy. The publishers should provide a lectern.

18/09/2009

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The Daily Express

Graham Ball

Shawcross’s research is impressive and there is much here to learn. Few outsiders knew of the Queen Mother’s health problems... This is a big book that does respectful duty to a big life but despite the detail her personality remains elusive. A few more anecdotes and a little less discretion would have added the zest one suspects the subject would have appreciated. 

20/09/2009

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The Sunday Telegraph

John Adamson

In conveying Queen Elizabeth’s unwavering dutifulness, Shawcross has served his subject well – perhaps too well. For in his zeal for comprehensiveness, he has created a text awash with details of menus consumed, clothes embroidered, presents received, places visited, and foundation stones laid that only a reader with a Queen Mother-sized sense of duty is likely to wade through to the finish line.

20/09/2009

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The Sunday Times

Christopher Hart

Official biographies are like uxorious husbands, dependable but dull, and Shawcross’s near-1,100-page whopper is, with momentary exceptions, a typical example.

20/09/2009

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The Mail on Sunday

Craig Brown

Just as owners grow to be like their dogs, do Royal biographers grow to be like their subjects? Shawcross and the Queen Mother share an evasive quality, discarding anything upsetting... And, as the book rolls on, Shawcross's opinions seem to meld with the Queen Mother's, his occasional state-of-the-nation overviews growing ever more reactionary. But Buckingham Palace will be delighted with his effots. Arise, Sir William!

20/09/2009

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