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Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the… (edition 2012)

by William Shawcross

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392292,072 (4.1)3
Member:briandrewz
Title:Counting One's Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
Authors:William Shawcross
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2012), Edition: Reprint, Hardcover, 688 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:letters, royalty

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Counting One's Blessings by William Shawcross

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This selection of the Queen Mother's letters was an enjoyable read which brought a smile to my face many times. The Queen Mother seemed to develop a more humorous personality as the years went on, and this is evident in her letters.

One of the things that struck me most was the Queen Mother's sense of mortality during World War II. In a letter to her eldest daughter, she talks about dividing up her jewels with Princess Margaret should anything happen to her. It serves as a reminder of the difficult and dangerous times she lived through.

This volume will be of immense help to anyone researching the Queen Mother's life. Though it did take me a while to get through it, it was a worthwhile endeavor. ( )
  briandrewz | Jan 6, 2013 |
Apparently whenever Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2004) arrived at Claridge’s Hotel for afternoon tea the band would strike up The Teddy Bear’s Picnic and this is really the leitmotif of this volume of selected letters – entertaining, affectionate and full of fun. She was famously discrete; as she told Queen Mary ‘since I married I have made a strict rule never to discuss anything of Family matters with my own relations’, and there are noticeable gaps in the correspondence. There is only the briefest mention of resources: ‘I am going to spend my Marland Oil (when it goes up) in doing several things’. She was an astute in her assessment of King George V’s ‘Monarchical temper’. Even in the 1920s she despaired of press intrusion (‘How beastly the papers are – nothing but lies!) and she could not conceal her antipathy to political opponents: ‘I am extremely anti-Labour.’ There are glimpses of the Abdication Crisis and the toll it took on both Queen Elizabeth and King George VI but she felt ‘Inadequate, but unfrightened’, as she told Osbert Sitwell, and they both prayed ‘most sincerely that we shall not fail our country’, as she confessed to the Archbishop of Canterbury. There is also a delightful susceptibility to dashing men throughout her life. On the way to Glamis, in 1915, ‘Two most beautiful sailors were also travelling in the same corridor. [...] Rather amusing what?’ In 1958 she was taken with Australian cowboys: ‘Very tall, with long legs encased in tight trousers, blue eyes, a drawl & a Stetson – they are too charming for words’.

William Shawcross’s selection itself is discrete but fascinating, especially mixing the letters with her wartime broadcasts. As her life progresses the sense of fun increases, mixed with foreign tours and racing interests. On one friend’s death she wrote ‘How wonderful to have lived a life ... spreading gaiety & kindness around you, & goodness & courage as well.’ She could have been writing of herself. Early in her royal life, she apologised to a friend as ‘my pen rushes along these little lines leaving sad drivel for you to read I fear.’ No one picking up this rather weighty volume would agree.
  Sarahursula | Jan 5, 2013 |
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Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes Lyon, born on 4 August 1900, was the ninth child of Lord and Lady Glamis, Claude and Cecilia.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374185220, Hardcover)

William Shawcross’s official biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, published in September 2009, was a huge critical and commercial success.
 
One of the great revelations of the book was Queen Elizabeth’s insightful, witty private correspondence. Indeed, The Sunday Times described her letters as “wonderful . . . brimful of liveliness and irreverence, steeliness and sweetness.”
 
Now, Shawcross has put together a selection of her letters, drawing on the vast wealth of material in the Royal Archives and at Glamis Castle. Queen Elizabeth was a prolific correspondent from her earliest childhood before the First World War to the very end of her long life at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and her letters offer readers a vivid insight into the real person behind the public face.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:38 -0400)

William Shawcross's official biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, published in September 2009, was a huge critical and commercial success. One of the great revelations of the book was Queen Elizabeth's insightful, witty private correspondence. Indeed, The Sunday Times described her letters as "wonderful ... brimful of liveliness and irreverence, steeliness and sweetness." Now, Shawcross has put together a selection of her letters, drawing on the vast wealth of material in the Royal Archives and at Glamis Castle. Queen Elizabeth was a prolific correspondent from her earliest childhood before the First World War to the very end of her long life at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and her letters offer readers a vivid insight into the real person behind the public face.--From publisher description.… (more)

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