Library Moments: Royalty

queen victoria

Iconic photograph of Queen Victoria by Alexander Bassano, 1882

Bessie Sullivan, County Library: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

Victoria Day is next Monday and Canada is the only country in the world that commemorates Queen Victoria with an official holiday, she was known at the “Mother of Confederacy” so it somewhat makes sense. Queen Victoria was born on May 24th, 1819. We celebrate the holiday on the Monday preceding the 25th of May. Although Canada does have a constitution, we recognise Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state along with the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Queen Elizabeth turned 91 on April 21st and is still fulfilling all her royal duties. It is certainly something to think about, a job that you are born into and can never leave.

Today on Library Moments, Nancy Therrien and I will each talk about a work of fiction; one about Elizabeth II and one about Victoria.

the uncommon readerNancy Therrien, Programming and Outreach Coordinator: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett is a 120-page novella about the queen’s growing fascination with books. She comes across a bookmobile on the grounds of the palace and borrows a single book out of politeness. One tale leads to another, and soon the Queen develops a voracious appetite for reading. Her staff members discourage her newfound hobby at every turn. They believe that reading is a selfish pursuit that distracts the Queen from her duties, but the Queen won’t be stopped. She foists her love of reading upon everyone she meets and through reading she develops empathy and a truer sense of the lives of her subjects.

The Uncommon Reader drops names of many famous classic authors and uses high-brow language including words such as amenuensis, and opsimath. In case you’re wondering, an amenuensis (/əˌmanyəˈwensəs/) is a literary assistant and an opsimath (/ˈäpsəˌmaTH/) is a person who learns later in life. The story is witty and humourous. It will remind you of the best reasons why you read and how much reading enriches your life. If you love books about books, like short stories, or enjoy tales about royalty, The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett may be for you. It is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

victoria goodwinBessie: In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; and resolute about meeting with her ministers alone. In the novel Victoria, writer Daisy Goodwin relies on Queen Victoria’s diaries to bring the young queen richly to life. I love learning about history through reading novels. I am always inspired to read further on a subject when reading about historical people or events in a novel. I want to verify that the fictionalization has been handled accurately, but also a well told story makes me genuinely want to know more about the time and its people. What I have learned from reading this novel is how close the relationship was between the monarch and the prime minister of England. The book has also reinforced that those born into monarchy have very limited life choices.

You however, have many choices, over 50,000 items on our shelves and countless more in downloadable products available from our website. Stock up for the long week-end at any branch of the Haliburton County Public Library or check out our website at

That’s it for this week’s Library Moments thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM, May 14 – 20, 2017.


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