What Downton Abbey doesn’t tell you about the 1920s Part 2

WARNING: Contains some spoilers for those who have not yet watched series 6


In part 1 of this blog, I raised three major points that Downton Abbey has overlooked since series 3. With the programme having ended on New Year’s Eve 1925 and the focus on romance and emotional lives from series 4 onwards, it’s clear that Downton Abbey has ended up as a parallel universe where history is ignored or even misrepresented and that the writer has no interest in an intelligent or historically faithful portrayal of the Twenties – it’s just that it so happens that period is where he has set his soap opera. Any events that are happening in the wider world are nothing more than a fleeting backdrop to the burning question of who will pair up with one of the most consistently unpleasant, shallow and poorly characterised women on screen for a long time.

As we have mentioned time and again while there are no big events in the 1920s it’s not to say that the decade itself was stagnant in terms of events. Far from it, the so-called “Roaring Twenties” was a period of change and we are still living with the consequences of many of these changes for good or for ill.


How Downton Abbey portrayed this:

Despite Robert telling both his mother and Carson that things cannot continue as they are, his words are not backed by actions such as selling Grantham House, or land and works of art. The only time any financial problems are addressed are when the Crawleys visit a neighbour whose estate is being sold, including the house, its contents and everything in between as well as to give Thomas something to do (in the guise of looming redundancy). Other than that despite the subtle indications that the Crawleys are struggling financially and that the money Matthew brought to the estate is running low, there has been no effort at all on the part of the family to re-examine their way of life and follow the example of their peers. Instead, we see them carrying on as normal and the extent of this denial is clear when Mary in one episode loftily proclaims that “Downton is where the Crawleys belong” without thinking and acting on any concrete steps to ensure that there will still be an estate for her son to inherit.

Robert S6 1

Cora S6 2

The reality:

As the 1920s rolled on, the aristocracy found themselves further squeezed in terms of high taxation and further falling incomes as more and more lands, houses, jewels, silver, works of art and other bric a brac went under the hammer to meet their financial obligations. Many hard up members of the aristocracy resorted to taking on paid employment and company directorships in order to make ends meet. Even those who were supposedly immune such as the Devonshires, Westminsters and Londonderrys were having problems of their own especially as their spending was outstripping their income. In order to retrench, they also resorted to sales, clamping down on their expenditure (such as for instance giving up hunting and scaling down on shooting parties) and additionally in the case of the 9th Duke of Devonshire, accepting an appointment as Governor-General of Canada in order to economise on his standard of living.

Hamilton Palace sale 3

Politically, the aristocracy were marginalised further and kept in their place through relegating them firmly in the backbenches. If they were fortunate to have been appointed to ministerial or cabinet positions, these were nothing more than minor ones that led to career dead ends. A corollary to this political decline was the rise of what David Cannadine called the “Great Ornamentals” where by imitating the example set by the British royal family, the aristocracy became more involved in a professional capacity with charities, public bodies that specialised in art, heritage, wildlife, health and education or carving out careers representing the monarch in various parts of the Empire as provincial governors, governor-generals and viceroys.

Before the First World War, it was unthinkable for the upper classes to earn a living, but economic necessities after the war meant that many peers and their families were obliged to go into paid employment. Some became company directors; others went into sectors such as finance, retail and journalism while there were those who took to the stage to carve out careers in acting, singing or behind the scenes.

While the many of the aristocracy tried their best to cope and survive in a changing world where they were increasingly becoming irrelevant and redundant, others retreated into denial by closing their eyes and ears to their continuing financial problems or embracing authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and blaming capitalism, socialism, foreigners and Jews for their predicament. No prizes for guessing what camp the Crawleys are in.



How Downton Abbey portrayed this:

Unlike the first two series where at least there was some effort from the family and servants to keep abreast of what is going on both on the domestic and international front, from series 3 onwards there has been little effort in terms of trying to engage with the wider world. If there have been any changes they have been purely cosmetic along the lines of clothes, hairstyles and props. The only times current events are mentioned is in series 5 when the Labour party took office for the first time and the opening of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley by King George V both of which occurred in 1924. Apart from the mention of a Labour government there is no explanation as to why the family and servants greet the news with such dismay.

The reality:

When Labour took power in 1924 there were lots of rumours about them, such as; they were Communists; they intended to disband the British Empire; right wing MP’s would be sacked and they were going to undermine the armed forces. These fears were all unfounded, but they scared many people including Winston Churchill, who hated Labour and even declared them “not fit to govern”

Ramsay macdonald

Fear of communism was widespread, and Ramsay McDonald’s rejection of revolution did not persuade many people that the formation of soviets in English towns was not imminent – and this fear was not discouraged by the Labour party’s treaties with the Soviet Union. Someone like Robert would have feared that the bloody excesses of the Russian revolution were about to be unleashed on his class – but perhaps we are naïve to be surprised we see none of this. This is a writer who managed to reduce the First World War as little more than an annoyance to the smooth tenor of the Crawleys’ privileged existence (they apparently didn’t even notice it until 1916), and contrived to reduce it to a bump in the road of the inevitable Mary/Matthew union once his fiancée had expired in a manner befitting the best Victorian melodrama.

As mentioned earlier, the absence of any large events in the 1920s didn’t mean that the decade itself was wholly uneventful. The decade was punctuated by high levels of unemployment due to the war time economy winding down and the huge numbers of demobilised men who needed to return to civilian life: only to find that there were not many jobs going. Owing to unsatisfactory pay and conditions, strikes were also fairly common which culminated in the General Strike of 1926.

Britain, once the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and a past leader in technological advances, found itself falling behind further after the war, with increased competition from abroad particularly from the United States. Free trade, once akin to a religious belief among the political and intellectual classes, was undermined as successive governments began to introduce tariffs in an attempt to keep foreign goods out, as well as imposing restrictions on the entry of such things as cars and motion pictures from overseas (especially America) to protect home grown industries. Agriculture, the bedrock of the traditional landed aristocracy, was not faring well due to the inability of many landowners and farmers to modernise and streamline their practices – which meant that food production was inefficient and Britain had to rely on imports to feed its population. And on the political front, the Labour party emerged as the second political party edging out the Liberals, who became a minority party.

Outside Britain, the optimism that greeted the end of the war quickly gave way to disillusion as political instability paved the way for the rise of dictatorships particularly in Italy, Poland and Hungary. Greece found itself veering between a monarchy then a republic then back again to a monarchy: while the instability of the Weimar Republic helped plunged Germany’s economy into a tailspin where hyperinflation rendered the Deutschemark worthless. Instability also plagued Russia where after a bloody civil war where the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin emerged triumphant, the USSR was established in 1922. However Lenin’s death two years later led to a power struggle which saw Joseph Stalin emerge triumphant.

Germany 1923

The end of the First World War also saw the emergence of the precursor to the United Nations in the form of the League of Nations which was set up as a means to avoid another major war. Concurrent with this was the establishment of several initiatives and conferences with the main aim of a lasting world peace.



How Downton Abbey portrayed this:

Just as there is no engagement with current events so does the outside world only intrude with set pieces such as a car race, going to London and when Edith has to attend to the magazine that she owns. Or they have been used in plotlines such as Daisy’s education and Molesley taking his first steps towards a career outside service. The finale showed some servants handing in their notices and a member of staff finally being promoted albeit in reduced circumstances.

S6ep6 pic



The reality:

As mentioned in part 1, the number of people in service declined after the First World War as more people shunned a life and job where there was little free time and where they were expected to be at the beck and call of someone else seven days a week and almost twenty four hours a day. From the point of view of the employers, the need to retrench and reduce their standards of living meant that they had to make some servants redundant or making the decision not to replace those who had retired or passed away. Those who remained in service found themselves increasingly taking on two or more roles.

The 1920s also saw the rise of consumer society, with businesses and industries actively targeting middle and working class customers who had greater disposable incomes. There was also the popularity of radio, the gramophone, dance halls, tea rooms and the cinema which gave people greater alternatives on where to spend their leisure time. The presence of organisations such as the National Trust, greater access to museum, art galleries as well as the open countryside and expanded provision for public parks meant that art, culture and the great outdoors were no longer solely the preserve of the upper and upper middle classes.

Radio and cinema’s popularity saw the rise of the cult of film stars particularly those from America. Stars such as Lilian Gish, Pola Negri, Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Charlie Chaplin became household names supplanting royalty and society figures. The fact that these Hollywood actors emerged from humble beginnings reinforced the notion of showbiz as meritocracy where talent and/or looks rather than birth and family background mattered.




Six series of Downton Abbey has demonstrated how the programme is wholly plot driven and we have no idea of the sort of background life that these people lead, and especially after series 2, no context of the wider world as the inhabitants of the Abbey seem wholly uninterested in what’s happening outside. In fact the outside world doesn’t seem to exist and I am of the opinion that several of the events I mentioned above have the potential for good story lines or explore what this family believe in and stand for and how they react to what’s going on around them. A good example would have been at the beginning of series 5 when they are moaning about a Labour government. Why are they and what are they afraid it will mean for them? After all, the early 20s were a time of Bolshevism and revolution in Russia and Germany and there were fears that it was only a matter of time before revolution came to Britain.

Even the ways the characters have reacted are at best anachronistic and at worst misleading. Upstairs, Robert’s reaction to Edith’s pregnancy and being an unwed mother for example only elicited a shrug, a reaction one would expect with a 21st century father but not one from the early 20th century where pregnancy out of wedlock was taboo for all classes. Or Mary after the war inundated with suitors despite the fact there were fewer men to go around and that she was struggling to attract them before the war.

Downstairs does not fare any better either. I don’t think I am the only one in thinking that the servants in the Abbey seem to be too comfortable with the status quo when in reality many people were leaving the countryside in droves and would rather work in offices, factories, shops and mines than in service. And this is why I found Andy deciding to become a permanent footman at Downton and his claim that he wanted a job in the country unbelievable.

And lastly for all the bleating about change, the ones we can see in the programme are merely cosmetic but real, deep seated changes are ignored, trivialised or misrepresented. Fellowes has ignored pretty much anything that’s going on outside and he seems to be unable to take these events and changes and weave them into his narrative. He simply retreats into romances, parties and set pieces while reality is being ignored since it won’t sell and they don’t inspire plot lines so he crowbars some of them in as a sort of caption to say “Oooh look, I did my research, I know what I’m talking about” – memorably summed up by one commenter as “I googled so you didn’t have to.”  In other cases such as the war memorial and the Russian refugees, he’s years too late as if to reinforce the point that Downton is some sort of other dimension or a different planet altogether, and that these are mere plot bunnies to give redundant characters something to do. There’s a certain irony in the realisation that the man who makes his characters bleat about change has for six series used characters and storylines over and over again.

For me it’s a shame that Downton Abbey over and over again has squandered any attempt to be original,  to show viewers how the past is very different from the present and to show the real trials and tribulations of the aristocracy far removed from his ahistorical caricatures. Yet again, we have to ask why Julian Fellowes chose the early 20th century and the aristocracy as a framework for his programme when he has shown himself with Downton Abbey to be uninterested in the past and interested only in reframing it from the perspective of the 21st century and his own particular agendas.


Photos have been taken from Wikipedia, various Downton Abbey fan sites, Piniterest.

Screenshot of article regarding the Hamilton Palace sale from The Times dated 14 November 1919

Further reading:

Martin Pugh. We Danced All Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars (London, 2009)

Jeremy Musson. Up and Down Stairs (London, 2010)

Lucy Lethbridge. Servants (London, 2013)

Pamela Horn. Country House Society (London, 2013)

Pamela Horn. Life Below Stairs: The Real Lives of Servants, the Edwardian Era to 1939 (London, 2012)

Pamela Horn. Flappers: The Real Lives of British Women in the Era of The Great Gatsby (London, 2012)

Mollie Moran. Aprons and Silver Spoons (London, 2013)

Andrew Marr. The Making of Modern Britain (London, 2009)

David Cannadine. The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (London, 1990)

David Cannadine. Aspects of the Aristocracy (London, 1994)

Juliet Nicolson. The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War (London, 2010)

Virginia Nicholson. Singled Out (London, 2008)

Sian Evans. Life below Stairs (London, 2011)

Mark Girouard. Life in the English Country House (Yale, 1978)

David Reynolds. The Great Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century (London, 2014)

Robert Wainwright. Sheila (London, 2014)

Mary S. Lovell. The Mitford Girls (London, 2002)


The Queen and Mr. Gladstone: The “Royalty Question” and a clash of personalities

Note: This is an abbreviated version of part of the blogger’s aborted PhD thesis on William Gladstone as an intellectual thinker

One of the more mysterious aspects of Britain’s constitutional set up is the relationship between the Sovereign and his/her Prime Minister. There are weekly audiences between the monarch and the prime minister and this is where the mystery lies because the audience is strictly between the two of them, there is no-one else present, no agenda exists and there are never any notes or minutes that are taken down. Even monarch and prime minister if ever they keep diaries are silent on what they have discussed during these weekly audiences. In a 2012 BBC documentary to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, Buckingham Palace allowed the unprecedented step of allowing the cameras to film the first few minutes of Her Majesty’s audience with David Cameron but once the subject turned to matters of state, the cameras were duly switched off and as always the public are left wondering what is it that really goes on.

Nevertheless the mystery serves only leads people to really wonder how monarch and prime minister really think about each other and what do they talk about. No-one knows what the present Queen thinks about the twelve prime ministers who have served during her reign and what has been presented on stage, film and television are at best only speculations.

Of course all of that will change in time when the main dramatis personae dies out and documents are released and revealed to the public subjecting them to closer scrutiny. Although no records ever exist of the weekly audiences the monarch and prime minister’s relationship can be gleaned through the treadmill of the daily business from the red dispatch boxes, memos, letters and diaries.

One of the most famous monarch-prime minister relationships that has left a considerable paper trail is that of Queen Victoria and William Ewart Gladstone who served as prime minster four times.  Although no records of Queen Victoria’s weekly audiences with Gladstone exist both were prolific writers and what we know of their relationship survives in letters, diary entries and memoranda which reveal the clash of two strong willed personalities who could be both could be obstinate, high minded especially in matters that concerned aspects of government policy and even affairs concerning the royal family.


The Queen’s attitude towards Gladstone was different when her husband was alive. “He is very agreeable,” she wrote echoing the esteem Albert had held for Gladstone, “so quiet & intellectual, with such a knowledge of all subjects & is such a good man.”  All this gradually changed especially after Albert’s death and when Gladstone assumed office as Prime Minister for the first time in 1868. Gladstone himself could be described as a Marmite person – either one admired him or disliked him and the Queen fell into the latter category.


Historians and biographers have delved into the roots and causes of the Queen’s antipathy to Gladstone which can be traced to three streams: first, in matters of ideological leanings and the way Britain should conduct her domestic and foreign policy; second, regarding Gladstone’s approach to the Queen both as a person and institution; third, what could be seen as jealousy stemming from Victoria’s view of Gladstone as a competitor for the esteem of the British public.

Many of their clashes over the conduct of official policy were rooted in the issues that Gladstone cared for, and that the Queen was not interested in. While the latter agreed with the former on the need for improving the conditions of the general public, she was generally not interested in social issues and was more inclined to be roused by foreign and empire policy particularly when it can to defending and maintaining British power and prestige abroad.

Queen Victoria famously said of Gladstone, “He speaks to me as if I were a public meeting.” While Gladstone revered the institution of the monarchy and its place at the apex of British society, unlike his great rival Benjamin Disraeli who famously got on well with Queen Victoria, Gladstone was hampered by his inability to treat the current occupant as a human being and as a woman. He was also very earnest and sometimes humourless which came across in his memos which were full of exhausting and exhaustive detail, which did not endear him to the Queen who certainly found his profound and high-minded discourses tedious and tiresome.

One of the first instances where Queen Victoria and Gladstone clashed was over the “Royalty Question” of 1872. Upon Albert’s death in 1861, Victoria withdrew into a prolonged period of mourning and started to wear black (until her own death in 1901) as well as abandon London and Windsor in favour of Osborne and Balmoral. At first, the public were sympathetic to the queen’s loss and genuinely mourned with her. However, as her absences became protracted and her continued to be plunged in mourning, people began to lose patience as her long seclusion meant that she was neglecting her public duties. From 1862 onwards, she refused to open parliament (having only been present thrice); invitations to commemorate the opening of public buildings and other infrastructure were declined and the subsequent weddings of Princess Alice, the Prince of Wales, Princesses Helena and Louise were drab, private events which Victoria insisted on out of the continual mourning for her husband.  Public commentators such as Walter Bagehot and Robert Cecil argued that the presence of ceremonial was paramount to the existence of the monarchy and more so since it was already impossible to justify its existence by divine right and absolute authority. The Crown needed to be visible if it was to earn the loyalty and esteem of its subjects.

Another factor in the unpopularity of the Queen was due to the behaviour of her family: particularly the Prince of Wales.  Victoria’s hope that his marriage to Princess Alexandra of Denmark would help him settle down was in vain as the Prince’s name was cited in the Mordaunt divorce case in 1870. She also deplored his indulgent and fast paced lifestyle.  Her continued resistance to ministers’ suggestions that the Prince be appointed to some position or allowed access to the red boxes (which contained government documents sent to the Queen) resulted in the Prince being condemned for his “purposeless existence”.  In addition, she was also accused of peopling the court with foreigners (relatives from Germany) and nonentities all of whom were believed to be supported with taxpayers’ money. A pamphlet entitled What Does She Do with It, believed to have been written by G.O. Trevelyan, alleged that the Queen was hoarding the money saved from ceremonial and public duties on order to fund her growing family in Britain and abroad.

Gladstone deplored the Queen’s long absences from her duties. Like the Prince of Wales, he believed that the more the people saw their Sovereign and members of the royal family, the better it would be for both sides. As part of his long-term plan for Ireland he proposed that the Royal family should make themselves more visible to the Irish, and in order to facilitate their presence in Ireland, he proposed a royal residence in the capital and that the Prince of Wales should be appointed the queen’s representative as Viceroy. He wrote in his memo, “[it] would likely to be of great utility in strengthening the Throne under circumstances which require all that can be done in that sense, if indeed we can make it a new means of putting forward the Royal Family in the visible discharge of public duty.” Predictably, Victoria was not enthusiastic about the plan, mentioning that she was “afraid of his being identified with Ireland, of his being surrounded by flatterers, and was doubtful of his disposition to act steadily upon any plan that might be laid down, and other matters.”

Countering the Queen’s continued negative attitude towards her oldest son and heir, Gladstone pointed out that while the Prince of Wales’s paramount role was difficult to shoulder, his character would be strengthened and hence would be better equipped for his future role by being given practical experience in the art of governance. “I contended,” Gladstone continued in his memo, “that if duty were found for him, he might show or acquire a disposition to do it.”

Furthermore, the growing unpopularity of the Queen and the Royal family was further aggravated by the rise of republicanism in Britain which was tied to the establishment of the Third Republic in France as a result of her defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A number of the monarchy’s opponents were admirers of several aspects of the French republican tradition and sympathised with the French in their war against Prussia, while others looked to the United States as an example. Republicanism was given ammunition by the queen’s unpopularity and the controversy over the monies for her children when they came of age or married. When she finally consented to open Parliament in 1870, republicans sniped that it was because she came with her begging bowl on behalf of Princess Louise’s wedding dowry and Prince Arthur’s coming of age allowance.

As mentioned earlier, Gladstone was of the view that if the Queen appeared more in public and paid more attention to her official engagements, the better it would be for her and for the public. In 1869, he successfully persuaded the queen to open Blackfriars Bridge and the Holborn Viaduct. While her first real appearance in public helped diffuse criticism of her and republican agitation, it was a short term solution to her prolonged and stubborn refusal to appear more in public or to allow her son exposure to practical government experience and even to deputise for her at Court. Also, giving her consent to the marriage of Princess Louise to the Duke of Argyll’s heir did not silence the critics due to the controversy over the Princess’s dowry.

The opportunity to permanently break the Queen’s seclusion presented itself by chance. The Prince of Wales came down with typhoid fever after a weekend at the estate of a friend and the progress of his health was eagerly covered and followed by the press and public. Gladstone saw the public interest in the saga of the Prince from his illness to recovery as a way of helping restore the royal family’s popularity. It was believed that apart from reversing the Queens unpopularity, the thanksgiving could also serve as a public way to bring about a “moral purification” for the Prince of Wales.

Queen Victoria was not enthusiastic with the idea of a public thanksgiving. On the religious front, her sympathy was more Broad Church and as such she was wary about Gladstone’s High Church orientation. She did not like ostentatious display in religious services and thought that a letter to the public would suffice.  Gladstone recorded her objections in a memo: “She objected to it [the thanksgiving] because she disliked in an extreme degree the cathedral service. She objected still more because she thought such a display, in point of religion, false and hollow. She considered that no religious act ought to be ever allied with pomp or show.”

Undeterred, Gladstone was determined to get the queen to agree to the thanksgiving service. When the Duke of Cambridge confirmed that the Princess of Wales was in favour of a public thanksgiving, he managed to convince Queen Victoria of the importance of holding a public ceremony citing the fact that her own grandfather George III took part in a similar celebration in 1789 after recovering from his own illness.  The queen finally gave way and the thanksgiving service took place on 27 February 1872 at St. Paul’s cathedral. Gladstone described the event in his diary as such:

Went off at 11:20 in the chariot having previously dispatched 6 children (18 to 29 years old!) in the large carriage. All the arrangements were admirable: the service short but impressive: the spectacle in and out doors magnificent: the behaviour of the people admirable (to us very kind). The ceremony lasted an hour. We went home at 2:30. Walked out to see the illuminations in the evening.

The success of the event resulted in a surge of popularity for the royal family. Any talk of a republic was now forgotten as the masses of people lined up to cheer the royal procession as it made its way to St. Paul’s.  For Gladstone, the thanksgiving was proof of the unity between the Crown and people; the sight of the queen and representatives of the public praying at St. Paul’s showed a nation united and the queen performing her duties as a constitutional monarch.

However, any triumph on the part of Gladstone proved to be short lived. He might have been able to finally persuade the Queen to come out of her seclusion but with other matters of State such as foreign affairs, objection to certain cabinet appointment and honours as well as the continued campaign to engage the Prince of Wales in a more useful occupation, Victoria continued to dig in her heels, while at the same time seeing herself as an important part of policy making. Until the very end, she resented Gladstone’s heavy handed approach, which was unlike Salisbury and especially Disraeli, who flattered the Queen and made allowances for her caprices if she allowed them to get on with the day to day business of government and politics.

Moreover, there was a streak of jealousy on the part of the queen as she saw that Gladstone was a competitor for the affection of the British public – the “People’s William” versus the “People’s Victoria” as his successful campaign at Midlothian showed. Victoria was also unhappy that while his influence among the public grew, hers seemed to diminish, as seen in their running disputes over issues such as army reform, church reform, empire affairs, Irish Home Rule. As he prepared to resign as Prime Minister for the last time in 1894, Gladstone wrote of the Queen: “I am as I hope loyal to the Throne. I admire in the Queen many fine qualities which she possesses……..I hope my duty to her and her family has never in fact, as it has never in intention fallen short.” But in the end of the memo, he does admit that his working relationship with the Queen had never been smooth and likened it to a mule he rode while on a holiday in Sicily as a young man, “I could not get up the smallest shred of feeling for the brute, I could never love nor like it.”


Bust of Gladstone in the Scottish Liberal Club in Princes Street, Edinburgh. Now occupied by Debenhams. Photo taken by blogger.

Photo of Queen Victorian by Bassano. Taken from Wikipedia

Further Reading:

Richard Williams. The Contentious Crown: Public Discussion of the British Monarch in the Reign of Queen Victoria (London, 1997)

William Kuhn. Democratic Royalism: The Transformation of the British Monarchy, 1861-1914 (London, 1996)

Freda Harcourt, ‘Gladstone, Monarchism and the “New” Imperialism’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 14 (1985), pp. 20-51.

Antony Taylor. Down with the Crown: British Anti-monarchism and Debates about Royalty since 1790 (London, 1999)

William Kuhn, ‘Ceremony and Politics: The British Monarchy, 1871-1872’, The Journal of British Studies 26 (1987), pp. 133-162

M.R.D. Foot and H.C.G. Matthew (eds). The Gladstone Diaries, 14 vols (Oxford, 1968-1994)

John Morley. The Life of William Ewart Gladstone,3 vols (London, 1903

Travis Crosby, The Two Mr. Gladstones: A Study in Psychology and History (Yale, 1997)

H.C.G. Matthew. Gladstone 1809-1874 (Oxford, 1988)

H.C.G. Matthew. Gladstone 1875-1898 (Oxford, 1995)

Philip Magnus. Gladstone: A Biography (London, 1954)

Elizabeth Longford. Victoria R.I. (London, 1964)

Christopher Hibbert. Queen Victoria: A Personal History (London, 2001)

A.N. Wilson. Victoria: A Life (London, 2014)

Jane Ridley. Bertie: A Life of Edward VII (London, 2012)

Gladstone papers at the British Library consulted by the blogger:

BL Add. MS. 44760, fols. 40-45

BL Add. MS 44760 ff. 129-126

BL Add. MS 44432 ff. 304-305

BL Add. MS 44618 ff. 47-48

BL Ad MS 44776 ff. 67-68