“A fresh, lively ” perspective on Victorian England, as seen through the eight assassination attempts on Queen Victoria (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
During Queen Victoria’s sixty-four years on the British throne, no fewer than eight attempts were made on her life. Seven teenage boys and one man attempted to kill her. Far from letting it inhibit her reign over the empire, Victoria used the notoriety of the attacks to her advantage. Regardless of the traitorous motives—delusions of grandeur, revenge, paranoia, petty grievances, or a preference of prison to the streets—they were a golden opportunity for the queen to revitalize the British crown, strengthen the monarchy, push through favored acts of legislation, and prove her pluck in the face of newfound public support. “It is worth being shot at,” she said, “to see how much one is loved.”
Recounting what Elizabeth Barrett marveled at as “this strange mania of queen-shooting,” and the punishments, unprecedented trials, and fate of these malcontents who were more pitiable than dangerous, Paul Thomas Murphy explores the realities of life in nineteenth-century England—for both the privileged and the impoverished. From these cloak-and-dagger plots of “regicide” to Victoria’s steadfast courage, Shooting Victoria is thrilling, insightful, and, at times, completely mad historical narrative.
Whether through film (Jean-Marc Vallée’s The Young Victoria), biography (Julia Baird’s Victoria: The Queen), television (Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria), or revisionist fantasy (Paul Di Filippo’s The Steampunk Trilogy) there is a strong interest in Victorian England. Now Paul Thomas Murphy approaches this period from an eccentric, entirely new, and unexplored angle, combining legal, social, and political history into a book that is both “enlightening [and] great fun” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
“I would like to have been taught by [Paul Thomas Murphy]. 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
“[A] gripping book . . . Unravelling a rich skein of themes—justice, monarchy, prison, policing, public fears and private lunacy among them—Murphy shows how the survival of Victoria was also the survival of the British monarchy. . . . Shooting Victoria is a teeming, discursive pleasure. Murphy’s book is a feat of historical sympathy, shining light on the larger picture of the 19th century and its indestructible queen.” —The Guardian (UK)
“A fresh, lively narrative . . . Entertainingly informative.”—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
“Reading pleasure for all.” —Library Journal
“Beautifully researched and lucidly written . . . An entertaining study.” —The Sunday Times
Paul Thomas Murphy earned his BA from Boston College, his MA from McGill University, and his PhD from the University of Colorado. He teaches interdisciplinary writing on Victorian topics at the University of Colorado and sits on the board of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.