In May 2017, you can buy my first book. I’m immensely proud of it, and, having spent nearly a year immersed in all things food and Queen Victoria, I’m a tad overly excited about – eventually – getting my hands on a copy. Part culinary-biography, part-gastronomic exploration, it looks both at Victoria’s life through her food, and also at the impact that feeding her had on the people and buildings around her.
You can pre-order it on Kindle now, but, for the full technicolour glory of it, the hardback comes out on May 18th – but you can pre-order it from mid-December.
Please support your local lovely independent bookshop where possible, but otherwise you can go to the Waterstones website to pre-order (and Amazon, but while we all do it, it’s not nice to talk about it).
Here’s the official blurb and a glimpse at the front cover.
Bursting with original research, Annie Gray's first book sits down at the royal table and opens the kitchen door to tell the story of what Victoria ate, and how she changed English food forever
In the 19th century, a revolution took place in how we ate - from the highest table in the land to the most humble. Annie Gray's book is both a biography of Britain's most iconic monarch, and a look at the changing nature of cooking and eating in the Victorian era.
From her early years living on milk and bread under the Kensington system, to her constant indigestion and belligerent over-eating as an elderly woman, her diet will be examined, likes and dislikes charted, and the opinions of those around her considered. More than that, though, this book will take a proper look below stairs. Victoria was surrounded by servants, from ladies-in-waiting, to secretaries, dressers and coachmen. But there was another category of servant, more fundamental, and yet at the same time more completely hidden: her cooks.
From her greed to her selfishness at the table, her indigestion and her absolute reliance on food as a lifelong companion, with her when so many others either died or were forced away by political factors, Victoria had a huge impact on the way we all eat today. Annie Gray gives us a new perspective on Britain's longest reigning monarch, viewing her through the one thing more dear to her than almost anything else: her stomach.
Annie Gray is an historian, cook, broadcaster and writer specialising in the history of food and dining in Britain from around 1600 to the present day, conducting her research both in libraries and in kitchens. She has worked at Audley End amongst other historical kitchens, and gives lectures all over the country. She lives in East Anglia.