Thanks to Martin Packer for sending along the original Times URL

According to Tim Reid's article in The Times on-line, the "List Of Books Read By Princess Victoria," a document in her own handwriting, reveals the "formidable reading list" of 150 works she studied "between the ages of seven and 16," many of which "would be largely impenetrable to even the most dedicated and scholarly modern pupil."

The record, to which, begins in 1826, . . . is a mix of 20 religious texts, 27 French books, including Voltaire's histories, 13 volumes of classical Latin and grammar, including the works of Ovid, Virgil and Horace, the great historical works of the age, the poetry of Dryden, Pope, Cowper, Shakespeare and Goldsmith, treatises in business and astronomy, Blackstone's classic commentary on the laws of England -- studied when 15 — and compendiums on geography, natural history and moral teachings. . . . By the age of nine, the Princess was studying 25 texts, including A Concise History of England, Markham's History of France, An Introduction to Astronomy, Geography and the Use of Globes, The Catechism of the Church of England — "to be learned by Heart" — Pinnock's Catechism of Geography, and the Book of Trades.

By the time Victoria was 16 she had already read Dryden's translation of The Aneid, Pope's Iliad, Voltaire's history of Charles XII (in the original French), "and was studying Goldsmith's History of England, Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, had completed Goldsmith's histories of Greece and Rome and Magnall's Historical Questions."

In sum, Victoria, who "enjoyed a grasp of world affairs far superior to many of the 20 Prime Ministers who worked to serve her," was an extremely well educated person. She spoke excellent French plus "some Italian [and] adequate Latin" and had "an advanced knowledge" of subjects, such as business, still not adequately covered at Oxford. Victoria was clearly one nineteenth-century British woman who was not handicapped because not she did attend a major university. Can you think of other Victorian women (outside royalty) who also achieved high learning despite their inability to attend a university? Hint: one remains one of England's most important novelists, and another, a major poet and a leading scholar of post-classical Greek, was seriously suggested as Poet Laureate on the death of Wordsworth.


Reid, Tim. "Victoria, Princess in a class of her own." [,,2-121429,00.html] Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Last modified 23 December 2004