Jane Ridley

Through the Keyhole

The Queen’s Knight


Bantam Press 348pp £20 order from our bookshop

Prince Arthur is perhaps the least known of all Queen Victoria’s sons. Ennobled as the Duke of Connaught, he grew up to become a vaguely military figure with a Wellingtonian nose and a leonine moustache, and he lent his moniker to the Connaught Hotel, which (so Wikipedia tells me) changed its name from the German-sounding Coburg Hotel during the First World War. Prince Arthur’s tutor, Sir Howard Elphinstone, is an even more obscure figure, barely mentioned even in histories of the court of Queen Victoria. At first sight, neither of these characters seems to offer especially promising material, but Martyn Downer has succeeded with masterly skill in using the story of Elphinstone and Arthur as a window on the Victorian court, providing a riveting and original account of the mid-century monarchy.

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

    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,