Lucy Worsley has many strings to her bow – TV historian, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces and author – and she’s mixed them all by delving into the life of a young Queen Victoria, explains Sian Kissock.
Lucy engaged the enthusiastic audience through witty facts and mystery. Did you know being a historian involves reading memoirs which often have pages evidently torn out, or the words ‘burn this’ scrawled on them?
She invited volunteers from the audience to portray the royal family tree on stage. The six sons of King George III were envisaged with the help of children wearing coronets, a pineapple, a paper chain of their 45 illegitimate children and a representational pair of George Prince of Wales’ rather large trousers!
My Name is Victoria is the story of Miss V Conroy, sent to be Princess Victoria’s companion. Life with the stuffy Royals in Kensington Palace means following a strict set of rules. Miss V becomes torn over her loyalty to her father and her budding friendship with Victoria.
The Palace was a very protective environment, explained Lucy. Because Victoria’s mother was concerned about her security, she spent her days with only dolls for company. Miss V Conroy’s father is a servant of Victoria’s mother, and Miss V sends him to be Victoria’s companion.
Lucy showed the audience pictures of Victorian artefacts and invited them to guess what they were and who they belonged to. The children ended the hour by quizzing Lucy about history and her writing.
Do you have a favourite character in history?
I often say Queen Elizabeth I. Wasn’t she magnificent? A female monarch who was very clever and did a very good job who was very dedicated to her duty.
Did you like history when you were younger?
It was the subject at school that to me didn’t feel like any work. It just seemed fun and interesting. That’s why I have been lucky enough to go in to it in adult life. I get paid to do things that I like!
Which do you prefer writing – adult non-fiction or children’s fiction?
I like both because they are very different. Non-fiction writing has all got to be true. When writing fiction, I am in charge! I take the facts, I play with the facts and sometimes I introduce surprising things that didn’t really happen. I like doing a bit of both.