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Geoffrey Parker
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Curse you, Hollywood!

Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion - Anne Somerset

This weekend my wife and I went to go see The Favourite, the new movie about the triangle between Queen Anne, Sarah Churchill, and Abigail Hill. It's a really good movie (Olivia Colman deserves an Oscar just on the basis of her physical performance in the role, so don't be surprised if she is completely snubbed) though as with just about every historical film Hollywood produces it takes its share liberties with history.


The thing is, I really couldn't say what those liberties were, as yet again I went into a historical film with only the vaguest familiarity of the personages and events depicted. This did absolutely nothing to detract from my enjoyment of the film as a film, yet barely a scene went by when I wasn't annoyed with myself for not being able to gauge the historical veracity of what was being shown. This was especially true of the depiction of Queen Anne, whom I had long thought of as the most capable of the Stuart monarchs (granted, the competition here wasn't fierce) yet in the film she comes across as anything but. So, what was truth and what was dramatic license?


I have a simple fix for this, of course, which is to read some books. I'm familiar enough with the context so that general historical works are unnecessary, so I'm going to focus on biographies of the major figures portrayed. This means starting with Queen Anne, and while I have long planned on reading Edward Gregg's biography of her I'm going to start with Anne Somerset's instead, for the simple reason that it's the more easily acquirable of the two. After that I'll probably tackle ones on Sidney Godolphin and Robert Harley before getting to Sarah Churchill, as I suspect sorting out which book about her to read is going to be a challenge.