Simon Heffer

Expanding Empire

Victoria’s Wars

By

Viking 503pp £25 order from our bookshop

Since we have come to view the nineteenth century as a time of unstoppable expansion for the British Empire, it is a shock to read, at the beginning of Saul David’s entertaining and thorough account of two vital decades of that expansion, that at the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign the Empire was in decline. It appeared to have reached a high-water mark in the 1770s, before the loss of the American colonies: since when the nation’s activities had been concentrated on domestic security, notably in fighting the Napoleonic Wars, and the acquisition of a few unpromising penal colonies in the antipodes.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,
    • 'Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palae… ,
    • 'Some scholars attribute Shakespeare’s pre-eminence to four centuries of propaganda and not to the fact that Hamlet… ,
    • RT : We would appreciate any retweets ,
    • We've just stumbled on a gem from the LR archive. The emoluments page from May 1995, in which one reviewer asked to… ,
    • Unlike Mary Shelley's monstrous creation, Jeanette Winterson's Frankenstein-inspired novel feels 'barely alive', sa… ,