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.
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
“Had me at the first sentence”
“Zingy, fresh, and unexpected: Annie Gray, the queen of food historians, finds her perfect subject. A book to devour.”
“Annie Gray is a brilliant writer and scholar who brings a glorious combination of enthusiasm and greed to every subject she tackles. In the field of food history she leads the pack.”
“The best - and most popular - rooms in any National Trust property are always the kitchens. It is there, rather than the grand staterooms, that we are able to visualise what life was really like in the past.
In The Greedy Queen Annie Gray replicates those kitchens in book form, conjuring up for her readers both the elaborate banquets and the quiet family dinners of Queen Victoria and her household. Never has history seemed quite as delicious as in these pages.”
“I'm avid to tuck in.”
Rachel Cooke, Guardian 2017 non-fiction picks
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.
10th May 2017, 2pm
Chipping Campden Literary Festival
24th May 2017, 7.30pm
Topping & Co, Ely
1st July 2017, 10am
Chalke Valley History Festival
8th July 2017, 6pm
Wimpole History Festival
20th July 2017, 4pm
Buxton Festival, Buxton Spa
25th November 2017, 6.50pm
BBC History Magazine History Weekend, York