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“This book, Mamma gave me, that I might write the journal of my journey to Wales in it.”
With these words, the 13-year old Princess Victoria of Kent began the first volume of her Journal, or detailed diary, in 1832, thus starting a habit that would last for the rest of her life, until her death in 1901, by which time she was known to the whole world as Queen Victoria, ruler of a quarter of the world.
Queen Victoria was the longest serving British monarch, reigning as Queen from 1837 to 1901 and as Empress of India from 1877. In total 141 volumes of her journal survive, numbering 43,765 pages. They have never before been published in their entirety and have hitherto only been accessible to scholars by appointment at the Royal Archives. Edited excerpts have been published in print but they cover only a fraction of the whole.
As well as detailing household and family matters, the journals reflect affairs of state, describe meetings with statesmen and other eminent figures, and comment on the literature of the day. They represent a valuable primary source for scholars of nineteenth century British political and social history and for those working on gender and autobiographical writing.
It is not clear where Queen Victoria's Journals were kept during her lifetime, though it was probably at Windsor Castle, her principal residence. Whichever volume was the current one would go with her on her travels, in the care of her Wardrobe Maids. After the Queen's death in 1901, the Journals passed to Princess Beatrice's custody (the Queen's youngest daughter), although they were actually kept at Windsor, in the room set aside for the Sovereign's Private Secretary. From here, the King's Librarian would dispatch a few volumes at a time to Princess Beatrice for her to work on her transcript (see Versions). Only after this transcription work had been completed were the Journals transferred to the Royal Archives, in the Round Tower at Windsor Castle, and they have remained in the Archives ever since.
Publication of the first release of Queen Victoria's Journals marked not only the anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth (24 May 1819), but also the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of HM Queen Elizabeth II. This project makes available online digital images of every page in the entire sequence of Queen Victoria's diaries, and provides full transcriptions and keyword searching of all journal entries.
The Queen Victoria's Journals resource is the product of a unique partnership between the Bodleian Libraries and the Royal Archives, working in collaboration with the online publisher ProQuest.
This website reproduces as high-resolution colour images every page of the surviving volumes of Queen Victoria's journals, along with separate photographs of the many illustrations and inserts within the pages.
Each page has also been meticulously transcribed and re-keyed, allowing for the journals to be searched. A number of specially-comissioned essays have also been included in this resource, to further support the study and understanding of Queen Victoria and her world.
This site has been made possible by the generosity of a number of supporters.
There are four different versions of the Journal - the original which Queen Victoria wrote herself; a manuscript, abridged transcript written by her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice; a typed transcript prepared for Lord Esher; and some draft volumes also written by the Queen. None of these versions covers the whole period, from 1832 to 1901.
Of the Queen's original Journals, only 13 small purple and marbled volumes survive, covering the period from 1832 to 1836. The final volume originally included entries for the early months of 1837 also, but once Princess Beatrice had transcribed these, she removed the pages from this volume and destroyed them.
This online collection is available for free to all users within the United Kingdom (as well as to some specific libraries in the Commonwealth) and will remain so in perpetuity . A parallel version of this database is being made available to subscribing academic institutions and libraries elsewhere in the world.
From 24th May 2013 (Queen Victoria's birthday and the first anniversary of the project's launch) Queen Victoria's Journals will be freely available to users throughout the world for one month. Following the end of this period, normal restrictions on access (see above) will resume.
Access to material in the Royal Archives, including Queen Victoria's journals, is normally granted only to those undertaking academic research, on written application to the Senior Archivist.
For more information, please e-mail the Royal Archives or write to:
The Royal Archives,
The version of Queen Victoria's Journals in her own handwriting, covers the period between 1st August 1832 (the start of the journal) and 1st January 1837 (the point at which Princess Beatrice's transcript commences). When Lord Esher commissioned his typescript version of the diaries, he covered the whole of this period (as well as extending a few years further into her reign). These two versions for the overlapping period are more or less identical, with the significant exception of pagination (there is more text on each of the Esher typescript pages than on each of Queen Victoria's original handwritten pages). In order to facilitate searching using modern names of people, places and common words, we have, where possible, silently corrected the transcript of Lord Esher's typescript to reflect modern typographical convention. For instance, Queen Victoria often spells the word 'shocking' as 'schocking'. Our transcript of her original handwritten version retains this spelling, but in the typescript of the Lord Esher version, we have corrected it to the usual spelling of 'shocking'.
The reference to cite for the Journal should be given as:
RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) followed by the date of the entry and the version of the Journal used - e.g.
RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) 24 May 1844 (Princess Beatrice's copies)
When citing a journal entry (depending on version): Friday 24th May 1844
RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) 24 May 1844 (Princess Beatrice's copies). Retrieved 24 May 2013.(NB: versions include Queen Victoria's handwriting; Lord Esher's typescripts, Princess Beatrice's copies; Queen Victoria's drafts.)
When citing an essay: Queen Victoria's Coronation, by Roy Strong
RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) Queen Victoria's Coronation, by Sir Roy Strong (Essay). Retrieved 24 May 2013.
When citing a journal illustration: Thursday 12 May 1842
RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W) 12 May 1842 (Journal illustration). Retrieved 24 May 2013.
When citing a sketchbook illustration: 10 February 1852
RL K.24 f.60 (Sketchbook illustration). Retrieved 24 May 2013.
When citing anything else: Queen Victoria's Journals home page.
RA VIC/MAIN/QVJ (W). Retrieved 24 May 2013.
Those wishing to make use of material from Queen Victoria's Journals in any academic publication should contact the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ, enclosing the relevant sections of their text, showing the context of their proposed usage of this material in the context of the surrounding paragraphs.
To assist libraries, we have created a single MARC record describing this digital collection, for inclusion in cataloguing systems.