Queen Anne (1980)

Book Number: 21

Queen Anne

By Edward Gregg (1945-2008)

Emeritus Professor of History, University of South Carolina

Series Editor: J.J. Scarisbrick

The first commission for Queen Anne in the English Monarchs series was given to Professor Geoffrey Holmes (1928-1993) of Lancaster University. This book is listed as ‘In Preparation’ on the dust jacket of the 1972 Henry VII by S.B. Chrimes, but no other book in the series. Holmes was a leading expert on this period and already had written at least one highly regarded book on Anne. His obituary by J.V. Beckett in The Independent newspaper (27/11/1993) described Holmes’ 1967 book ‘British Politics in the Age of Anne’ as seminal, commenting that he ‘was recognised from the moment it was published to be of great importance, not merely for our understanding of the years 1702-14, but more generally of the structure of politics after the Glorious Revolution.’ In the ‘Further Reading’ annotated bibliography in ‘Tudor and Stuart Britain: 1485-1714’ (4th ed. of 2018) the authors Roger Lockyer and Peter Gaunt similarly comment that this book is “vital to our understanding of the period”. So, clearly a book by Geoffrey Holmes would have been a serious entry in the English Monarchs series and it is a loss that it was never completed for Eyre Methuen and The University of California Press. No reason for this was found and it was not until Yale published the second edition of Edward Gregg’s study in 2001 that Anne had an entry in the series.

‘Queen Anne’ was first published in hardback by Routledge & Kegan Paul in 1980, and with a paperback issue by Ark in 1984 (UK). A second (revised) paperback edition was published by Yale in November 2001. This book was included in the series by Yale only at the time of the 2001 paperback. It was not included at the time of its 1980 Routledge & Kegan Paul printing or the 1984 Ark paperback.

The verso in the Yale paperback clearly states that this version is a "new edition" and the evidence for this is outlined in the author's foreword. This foreword in the Yale paperback edition is a long explanation by author in which he says the revisions for the second edition are based on a wealth of new documentary material which was not available at the time of the writing of the first edition. The inclusion of Queen Anne in the series places it in a small sub-category of titles being brought into the series that were based on an existing title outside the series. Queen Anne was one of four existing books identified by the Consultant Editor, J.J. Scarisbrick, as worthy to be promoted into the series when Yale acquired English Monarchs and commenced publishing books in the series in 1997. The others were King John, James II, and George I. Of these four Queen Anne was the only one to be a completely revised work. The other three retained their originally published - or first edition - text.

Queen Anne was also a book based on a previous book by the same author. John Gillingham's Richard I (1997) had preceded this book as being based on a previous book by the author - in fact two! - and it wasn't to be the last; William the Conqueror (2016) by David Bates followed Queen Anne in being a new work based on the author's earlier published biography. Queen Anne differs from these two in that it is called a Second Edition rather than a new book and as such the first edition is being recognised here whereas this is not the case for the books by Gillingham or Bates. These two books were published as new and separate titles. Therefore Queen Anne is a unique entry in the series having the distinction of being both in the group that was imported to the series and in the group that was a reworking of an existing title.

It's also the only book unavailable in hardback in its edition. James II is published only in paperback by Yale, although the hardback of the 1978 and 1989 printings by different publishers are available. The same is true of George I with the 1978/79 Thames & Hudson and Harvard printings available in hardback. Queen Anne was a little shortchanged however being issued only in paperback for the Second Edition. A Yale hardback second edition is yet to be printed. This Yale book is a rare example where, for collectors, the paperback is to be recommended over the hardback. As nearly twenty years have elapsed since its publication Yale seems unlikely to print a hardback of the second edition.

John Miller (Queen Mary University of London) in The English Historical Review, Vol. 96, No. 378 (January 1981) commenting on the original edition of 1980, states that Edward Gregg challenges the conventional view of Anne in two ways: “...that she was determined to rule as well as reign and that she pursued consistent policies of her own. She supported the Church, but not to the extent of overturning the Toleration Act. She was determined to prosecute the war against France with the utmost vigour. Above all, she pursued the ideal of non-party government.” Gregg's most striking reassessment is that of Anne’s relationship with her confidant Sarah, duchess of Marlborough, showing that it was Anne’s decision to reject Sarah and her intolerable behaviour toward the queen. He concludes the review by saying "Thanks to Gregg's book, Queen Anne, consistently underestimated by historians, should now be given due prominence in the history of her reign.” John Miller is the author of the James II book in the series.

W.A. Speck (University of Newcastle on Tyne) in Journal for Eighteenth‐Century Studies, Volume 3 Number 3 (1980) finds the writing has an uneven pace, with some years being heavily written and other years of the reign barely mentioned. "These division are in several respects a perverse way of dealing with the rhythm of the reign."

David Hayton (Queen's University, Belfast), reviewing the 1980 first edition in Irish Historical Studies Volume 23, issue 89, 1982, comments that "Edward Gregg is the first to attempt a biography that ventures beyond the closet, and offers more than the familiar story of illnesses and pregnancies, mawkish friendships and violent quarrels. Building on the work of Geoffrey Holmes and others, and adding his own expert knowledge of diplomatic history, he has written a comprehensive life and times' which sets Anne firmly in context."

Many of the popular reviews of this book on booksellers' websites point out that it is a study of Anne, her government and the relationships of the aristocracy and decision-makers rather than the general population or events outside Britain. In that sense it is a very internal account of her reign. At the same time the scholarly reviews commend Gregg for teasing out Anne's position at the centre of events while those around her, rather excitedly, were seeking more radical solutions to policy issues and constantly changing politics of the time. From this Anne emerges not as a passive and stubborn queen but a steadying force, one which laid the foundations for her Hanoverian successors.

In the preface to his book Edward Gregg clearly states his intention for the book. "The present work is not an attempt to present a 'life and times' account of the queen...It would be equally useless to attempt a 'private life' of a monarch who stood at the centre of the political stage. Instead, the present work is an attempt to integrate the public and private aspects of the queen's life in order to present a balanced picture of her, both as a ruler and as a private individual." The author also refers readers to G.M. Trevelyan's 'England Under Queen Anne' as a pioneering work examining the queen's role and importance. This is a titanic three volume work, published between 1930 and 1940.

Professor Gregg’s full name was Gary Edward Gregg.

ISBN data:

Routledge Hardback - 9780710004000

Ark Paperback - 9780744800180

Yale Paperback - 9780300090246

Link to the Book's Webpage at Yale

Buy the book from Amazon USA

Buy the book from Amazon UK

First Edition

Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980

First Edition

Ark Paperback, 1984

Second Edition

Yale Paperback, 2001

2014 Second Edition Paperback reissue and Kindle (UK & USA)

Cover: The Routledge and Ark printings have a 1703 painting by Edmund Lilly from Blenheim Palace.

The Yale edition has a 1705 portrait by Michael Dahl and owned by the National Portrait Gallery.

First edition 1980

Second Edition 2001