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Becoming Queen [Paperback]

Kate Williams
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

5 Mar 2009

Our perception of Victoria the Queen is coloured by portraits of her older, widowed self - her dour expression embodying the repressive morality propagated in her time. But Becoming Queen reveals an energetic and vibrant woman, determined to battle for power. It also documents the Byzantine machinations behind Victoria's quest to occupy the throne, and shows how her struggles did not end when finally the crown was placed on her head.

Laying bare the passions that swirled around the throne in the eighteenth century, Becoming Queen is an absorbingly dramatic tale of secrets, sexual repression and endless conflict. After her lauded biography of Emma Hamilton, England's Mistress, Kate Williams has produced a most original and intimate portrait of Great Britain's longest reigning monarch.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; Paperback. 0.2 edition (5 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099451824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099451822
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hello! Thank you for visiting my page. It's a great privilege to be on here - and to say hi to readers. Thank you very much for all your support! My twitter account is @katewilliamsUK, come and say hello!

I grew up in a very modern house in a dormitory village in the Midlands- and as a consequence became completely obsessed by the past. When I was about six, we got a new washing machine - and I took the huge cardboard box, covered it in silver foil and told my little brother it was a time machine. I used to rumble it about and tell him 'Look! We're in Egypt in the time of the pyramids - but you can't get out!' So he had to listen to all the stories inside, my poor brother...

'One of Britain's best young historians', Independent.
'Historian Extraordinaire', The Today Programme, Radio 4
'Queen of historical fiction', Guardian
'Unforgettable', (the book, not me!), The Lady.
'Gripping, seductive', The Times

I'm still looking for that time machine - and still living in it, really as I am so obsessed by history.

Thanks so much for coming with me in my time machine.....

My latest novel, The Storms of War, is the first in a trilogy about the de Witt family. The first explores their lives from 1914-1918, as the youngest girl, Celia, sees her perfect world crumble and change. I've wanted to write about the wars since I visited the trenches in France when I was ten on a school trip. I was fascinated by how small they were - and how men could ever live in such places.

The second book will be published in 2015 - just writing it now! That will explore their lives from 1919 to 1927 - the twenties, flappers, the Crash - and a murder...

I have published four history books, my most recent (2013) was Josephine: Desire, Ambition, Napoleon (UK) and 'Ambition and Desire: the Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte' (US). It has been optioned by Ecosse Films (Nowhere Boy, Mrs Brown, Great Fire) and they are working on the script now.

My previous novel,The Pleasures of Men, about Catherine Sorgeiul, a young woman in 1840 who terrifies herself with her obsession with a murderer, appeared in 2012. I began writing the book while living in Paris, one summer - as she found herself wandering the streets alone at night, Catherine and the Man of Crows came into her mind.....It was the Simon Mayo Book Club Book in January, shortlisted for the London award and the screenplay is underway.

My second book, Becoming Queen, about the passionate youth of Queen Victoria and Princess Charlotte, England's lost queen, was published in September 2008. It was serialised in the Sunday Telegraph Stella Magazine, and a Book of the Year in the Tatler and Spectator. I made a BBC 2 show about it, acclaimed by Radio Times as 'superb', receiving 2.2 million viewers.

Her first book, England's Mistress: the Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton was published in 2006, after five years of research in archives across the world. It was Book of the Week on Radio 4, a Book of the Year in the Times and the Independent and shortlisted for the Marsh Prize for Biography. 'A wonderful, sparkling biography', Amanda Foreman.

I appear regularly on radio and TV. I was the social historian on our three series of BBC 2's Restoration Home and I am the in house expert and historian at CNN. I've also talked history and royals on the Bake Off, the Jubilee, royal wedding, coronation anniversary and Prince George coverage - and appeared often on Newsnight, Today, Sky News and various documentaries. I have made two radio documentaries, on Samuel Smiles and the history of the smile.

It's a great privilege to write - and I love hearing from readers. Thanks for coming to my page!

Product Description


"The amazing untold story of Victoria before she was Queen ... Kate Williams reveals a passionate young woman beloved of her future subjects but at war with her family" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Passionate, exuberant and entertaining, a treasure trove of royalty, intrigue and politics ... vividly and sensitively brings to life the girl who would become Queen" (Simon Sebag Montefiore)

"This fresh and vivid portrayal of the young Queen Victoria is deserving of the highest praise. I cannot recommend it highly enough" (Alison Weir, author of The Lady Elizabeth)

"Becoming Queen showcases an outstanding talent from whom we can expect much more" (Matthew d'Ancona Spectator)

"History as exciting and tempestuous as you are ever likely to find" (Country Life)


This fresh and vivid portrayal of the young Queen Victoria is deserving of the highest praise. I cannot recommend it highly enough --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb historical biography. 9 Nov 2008
Kate Williams has followed up her excellent biography of Lady Hamilton 'England's Mistress', with this fascinating book on how Queen Victoria ascended the throne. Beginning with the troubled path that would lead to the emergence of the Victorian age, Kate Williams depicts the dissolute and the degenerate heirs of George III, and the question surrounding the future heir the young and vulnerable princess Charlotte. The first half of the book introduces the reader to the background and its many characters who all wanted a stake at the throne. It is due to Kate Williams' attention to detail that she captures a whole host of memorable figures, not least Victoria's mother and the machiavellian John Conroy.

Ultimately in this very engaging historical biography, Kate Williams has achieved in bringing to life young Victoria, spirited, intelligent, and passionate, who through a change of fortune would become one of the most important monarchs in world history. A monarch who with the love of her future husband Albert, would usher in a new optimistic age. Brilliant and my pick for the best biography of 2008.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic portrait of a 19th century icon 1 Feb 2009
I very much enjoyed Kate Williams' previous (debut) book 'Lady Hamilton 'England's Mistress', and looked forward keenly to reading her latest account of the early years of Queen Victoria and the exceptional circumstances that culminated in her reign. I was not disappointed. Kate Williams has a deceptively easy style that makes her books highly readable. Contrary to another reviewer I did enjoy the long introductory paragraphs about Victoria's cousin Charlotte - the princess who should have been Queen: so little is written of her short, tragic life and it was illuminating to become acquainted with her before moving on to the subject 'an icon of the 19th century'. The book finished rather abruptly: I know it is an account of Victoria's early years and much has been written about the rest of her reign but perhaps my disappointment at the ending is indicative of how utterly absorbing and entertaining I found this marvellous book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Kate Williams's "Becoming Queen" 26 Jan 2011
Kate William's biography "Becoming Queen" recounts a sizable amount of British history and the improbable devolution of title of monarch onto the fragile shoulders of a girl of eighteen of under five foot in height,the future Queen Victoria. The story is amazing and destroys some of the myths one heard at school - The Prince Regent is stripped of his legendary romantic elegance, his daughter Princess Caroline appears as the truly popular expectant heir, and the maverick young Victoria emerges as a fighter who fully assumes her role despite a hostile entourage and even family. Even Prince Albert appears as a courageous consort and some "Victorian Values" not so dull after all. Clearly and racily written, this book is recommended as a good read and an eye-opener, full of precise and fascinating information.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and loss 16 May 2009
"Becoming Queen" is the story of a turbulent period in the British Royal Family which led to the accession of one of our most admired monarchs.It tells of a gross and selfish prince, his wronged but impossible bride and their daughter who embodied the nation's hopes. Her death after barely two years of a loving marriage led to the passing of the crown to an obscure child - the only legitimate grandchild of George 1Vth- who succeeded despite the last frantic efforts of his dissolute sons to produce a male heir. The book is dense and detailed but remains a riveting read, and you become acquainted with a fascinating, sometimes appalling, cast of characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Kate Williams has written an entertaining and fascinating account of Charlotte, our 'lost' queen, who died in childbirth. She brings to life the limitations and constraints on both Charlotte and the young Victoria from very young ages - both experienced extraordinary cruelty from parents who should have been loving and supportive. What dysfunctional families both belonged to, and yet they overcame the lot and it is a pleasure to read of their triumphs - Kate includes PLENTY of fresh quotations from their own writings.

Charlotte had a lucky escape from her mother, who allowed her house to be used as a 'safe' place where she could meet her first boyfriend; then pushed the pair into a bedroom with the words, 'Enjoy yourselves'. Scandalabra. Fortunately, the boy in question respected Charlotte's virtue, but her father blew his top when he heard of it - then used the threat of revealing the story, and destroying Charlotte's credibility and good name, to control Charlotte in a most unpleasant way. The Prince Regent comes across as a thoroughly unpleasant man. Before this, I thought he was just a roue with an interest in his own magnificent breeches and big-bosomed women.

I ended up seeing Victoria as a typical teenager - 'I am very modern,' she wrote - longing to travel, yearning for romance, having her hair done to match that of her fave singer, preferring 'modern' Donizetti to Mozart!

She was a remarkably liberal girl; she hated racism or discrimination on grounds of religion, and when Albert - rather a prude, though I adore him for his romantic Puss in Boots-style suede boots - complained that she could not have bridesmaids whose mothers weren't of good reputation, Victoria put him down firmly, saying basically, there but for the grace of God go we both.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
good for price paid
Published 2 days ago by David Nuttall
5.0 out of 5 stars Victoria!
Becoming Queen is a superb document of the little known early life of Queen Victoria and her cousin Princess Charlotte. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Mr. P. J. Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This a going to be a Christmas present and is just what I ordered. It arrived in just three days and was packed well. Looking forward to ordering more in the future.
Published 10 months ago by Chuck
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant
The stories of these two young girls by the very nature of their histories aren't intertwined as such but, in a nutshell one was born because the other died. Read more
Published 11 months ago by DL
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable read
This is a very entertaining account of the young lives of Charlotte, daughter of George IV, and her cousin Victoria, who eventually became Queen. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Tealady2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A HISTORYOF 2 PRINCESSES
Published 18 months ago by SHEILA
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb account of the upbringing of the women who would reign over an...
Most people have this image of Queen Victoria as this old, depressed and frumpy women dressed in black " we are not amused" etc. Read more
Published 21 months ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Put It Down!
If I had the time to read this biography straight through, I would! It's a real 'page-turner'. Although I bought it for Victoria's life story, the early section on princess... Read more
Published on 13 Jun 2012 by Rachel OK
4.0 out of 5 stars Victoria - Fact and Fiction
After all the film and television Victoriana of late this was an interesting read as it related the factual side of the events of Victoria's childhood and accession. Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2010 by Mariread
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
An excellent work. Highly recommended to those whom are interested in the end of the Regency period and the first few years of the Victorian era. Read more
Published on 3 April 2010 by Martin Oldham
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