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.
What does it mean to eat like a queen? Elizabeth gorged on sugar, Mary on chocolate and Anne was known as 'Brandy Nan'. Victoria ate all of this and more. The Greedy Queen celebrates Victoria's appetite, both for food and, indeed, for life.
Born in May 1819, Victoria came 'as plump as a partridge'. In her early years she lived on milk and bread under the Kensington system; in her old age she suffered constant indigestion yet continued to over-eat. From intimate breakfasts with the King of France, to romping at tea-parties with her children, and from state balls to her last sip of milk, her life is examined through what she ate, when and with whom. In the royal household, Victoria was surrounded by ladies-in-waiting, secretaries, dressers and coachmen, but below stairs there was another category of servant: her cooks. More fundamental and yet completely hidden, they are now uncovered in their working environment for the first time.
Voracious and adventurous in her tastes, Queen Victoria was head of state during a revolution in how we ate - from the highest tables to the most humble. Bursting with original research, The Greedy Queen considers Britain's most iconic monarch from a new perspective, telling the story of British food along the way.
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.
"Gray writes with great authority, verve and confidence. It's surprising this is her first book"
Paula Byrne, The Times ›
"Wonderfully researched and entertaining"
Jane Ridley, The Spectator
"Fascinating material, extracted from the archives by some fine forensic reading"
Kathryn Hughes, TLS
"Gray's oeuvre is deeply satisfying...rich in detail...her tone is lively, her pace jaunty".
Cate Devine, Glasgow Herald
“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.”
1st July 2017, 10am
Chalke Valley History Festival
8th July 2017, 6pm
Wimpole History Festival
20th July 2017, 4pm
Buxton Festival, Buxton Spa
8th August, 2017, time tbc
Honey & Co
(With lovely food made by even lovelier people)
1st October, 2017, 3pm
Marlborough Literary Festival
9th October, 2017, time tbc
Cheltenham Literary Festival
13th October, 2017
Guildford Book Festival (for Guildford Eve DFAS)
25th November 2017, 6.50pm
BBC History Magazine History Weekend, York