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Queen Victoria's Journals: Journal Versions

Versions of the Journal

There are 4 different versions of the Journal – the original which she wrote herself; a manuscript, abridged transcript written by the Queen's youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice; a typed transcript prepared for Lord Esher; and some draft volumes written by the Queen. None of these versions covers the whole period, from 1832 to 1901.

Of the Queen's original Journals, only 13 small purple and marbled volumes survive, covering the period from 1832 to 1836. The final volume originally included entries for the early months of 1837 also, but once Princess Beatrice had transcribed these, she removed the pages from this volume and destroyed them.

Princess' Beatrice's transcript, which covers the years from 1837 (when Queen Victoria came to the throne) until her death in 1901, comprises 111 volumes, of which 68 are in blue cloth bindings, 42 in brown and gold leather bindings, and 1 in a suede binding.

They were produced in accordance with the Queen's own wishes. She had begun to realise that her Journal might be of interest to other people quite early in her life: in the entry for 24 January 1843 she had written, "Wrote in my Journal, which I am vain enough to think may perhaps some day be reduced to interesting memoirs". With this in mind, she instructed Princess Beatrice to re-write the Journal, after her death, omitting or modifying passages which she considered unsuitable for preservation. An examination of the text shows that Princess Beatrice took this to mean that she should leave out information she considered too slight to be of interest (thus, very occasionally omitting a whole day), as well as passages she thought might offend other family members.

The original volumes, once copied, were destroyed, also on the Queen's instructions, though any enclosures, such as newspaper cuttings and concert lists, were taken out and put in the copy volumes, and Princess Beatrice also cut out from the pages of her mother's Journal the sketches which she had drawn to illustrate particular points, and pasted these into her abridged transcripts; glimpses of the surrounding original handwriting can be seen on some of these. Although King George V and Queen Mary deplored this destruction of Queen Victoria's original Journals, they felt unable to intervene.