Shooting Victoria by Paul Thomas Murphy
Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy

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Paul Thomas Murphy used to teach “a variety of disciplines” at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I would like to have been taught by him.
-NY Times

Synopsis

From a hunchbacked dwarf to a paranoid poet-assassin, a history of Victorian England as seen through the numerous assassination attempts on Queen Victoria while she ruled the British empire. 
During Queen Victoria’s 64 years on the British throne, no fewer than eight attempts were made on her life. Murphy follows each would-be assassin and the repercussions of their actions, illuminating daily life in Victorian England, the development of the monarchy under Queen Victoria, and the evolution of the attacks in light of changing social issues and technology.  There was Edward Oxford, a bartender who dreamed of becoming an admiral, who was simply shocked when his attempt to shoot the pregnant Queen and Prince consort made him a madman in the world’s eyes. There was hunchbacked John Bean, who dreamed of historical notoriety in a publicized treason trial, and William Hamilton, forever scarred by the ravages of the Irish Potato Famine. Roderick MacLean enabled Victoria to successfully strike insanity pleas from Britain’s legal process. Most threatening of all were the “dynamitards” who targeted her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee—signaling the advent of modern terrorism with their publicly focused attack.  From these cloak-and-dagger plots to Victoria’s brilliant wit and steadfast courage, Shooting Victoria is historical narrative at its most thrilling, complete with astute insight into how these attacks actually revitalized the British crown at a time when monarchy was quickly becoming unpopular abroad. While thrones across Europe toppled, the Queen’s would-be assassins contributed greatly to the preservation of the monarchy and to the stability that it enjoys today. After all, as Victoria herself noted, “It is worth being shot at—to see how much one is loved.”
 

About Paul Thomas Murphy

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Paul Thomas Murphy earned his BA from Boston College, his MA from McGill University, and his PhD from the University of Colorado. He teaches interdisciplinary writing on Victorian topics at the University of Colorado and sits on the board of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.
 
Published July 3, 2012 by Pegasus Books. 512 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Crime, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Shooting Victoria
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by John Sutherland on Jul 27 2012

Paul Thomas Murphy used to teach “a variety of disciplines” at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I would like to have been taught by him.

Read Full Review of Shooting Victoria: Madness, M... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Lucy Lethbridge on Jan 19 2013

Shooting Victoria is a teeming, discursive pleasure. Murphy's book is a feat of historical sympathy, shining light on the larger picture of the 19th century and its indestructible queen.

Read Full Review of Shooting Victoria: Madness, M... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Richard Davenport-Hines on Jan 11 2013

Murphy is a discursive, if not rambling, narrator who includes an abundance of extraneous material, ...The book is twice as long as it need be – and none the better for its cheerful verbosity.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Judith Flanders on Jul 26 2012

...Mr. Murphy is a fine researcher and vivid stylist...crafting delightful passages about the intrigues of the royal family and such arcana as the organization of the queen's household.

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