Day 18 – here’s a health unto Her Majesty

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Today we focus more on the date than the location, as we have been celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and the country continues to be full of bunting, jelly, Union Flags, fireworks and dads feeling tired and emotional.

So what’s the Queen’s connection to the world of GLBTQ fiction? A wonderful book by Alan Bennett called The Uncommon Reader which, if you haven’t read, you should go and make right straight away. (It’s to be found in libraries and bookshops everywhere, at least in Queen Elizabeth’s land.)  Wryly funny, reverent but subversive, it’s a great book, with as its central characters Her Majesty and Norman the servant, whom she first meets when she happens across the mobile library in the grounds of Buckingham palace.

Norman is soon introducing the Queen to the works of authors such as JR Ackerley; introducing me to them too, as I ran across the name fore the first time in The Uncommon Reader’s pages. I had to go and look Ackerley up – lo and behold he turns out to be one of the forerunners of the gay literature genre with My Dog Tulip (you won’t run across that easily in either libraries or bookstores).

Mr Hutchings was dubious, pointing out that it was a gay book.

“Is it?” said Norman innocently. “I didn’t realise that. She’ll think it’s just about the dog.”

If you want Her Majesty’s opinion on Ackerley (or at least that opinion as surmised by Alan Bennett) then you’ll need to read the book.

And raise a glass or two to our beloved sovereign as you go!

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21 responses »

  1. It’s a long time since I’ve hunted down books mentioned in other books – as if I needed any more ways to avoid writing – the old version of internet links works much more slowly but finding one of the books is much more satisfying. Thanks for the recs.

  2. I stumbled upon this website just today. What a great concept! Not only am I heading to the library today for The Uncommon Reader, but I’ve started reading the blog entries beginning at Day 1. Here in the States, I’ve seen only bits of the Diamond Jubilee festivities, but what a well-deserved celebration for an exceptional woman.

    • Glad you’re enjoying the posts, Karen – they’ve been really fascinating. Hope you enjoy The Uncommon Reader. I;ve just read it again and kept chortling. Very sly at times. 🙂

  3. The Uncommon Reader is a great book, wryly comic, very Alan Bennett but also quite unique.

    As for Her Maj, we can only conjecture what might her attitude to the LGBT community might be; I understand she has never referred to the subject in public. You might think that indicates homophobia, but apparently quite a high proportion of palace staff are members of said community, which doesn’t fit with that conclusion. She keeps her opinions to herself, and has had sixty years to practise being inscrutable…

    • *nods* I’ve read something similar (about the palace staff). She treads a very fine line, trying to be all things to all people while being uniquely herself. I admire her hugely.

  4. I love Alan Bennett’s work (off to see The Lady in the Van in a week or so’s time). And I confess I’m a bit of a monarchist too! I think The Family exist in a rarefied world of their own, but where they overlap ours, they do a hell of a lot of good work 🙂

    (I still don’t think they should have let poor old Philip stand out in that cold, damp river pageant all afternoon. Son#2 came home sneezing and moaning, and he’s only 17 *g*)

    • I think The Family exist in a rarefied world of their own, but where they overlap ours, they do a hell of a lot of good work.

      I think this is a lovely summary. IMO, most of us would get mightily exhausted after only a short time of living the royal family’s schedule.

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