I asked author and broadcaster Hugo Vickers a few questions about The Quest for Queen Mary. He graciously answered my questions, seen below. For my review of the book, click here.
What or who inspired you to edit James Pope-Hennessy’s notes for the Queen Mary book?
HV: I had always loved the original 1959 biography – first read by me in 1965 when I was 13. The chance to edit these notes was consigned to me by Michael Mallon, the literary executor to James and to his brother, Sir John. The notes were in Los Angeles, though Michael also had a copy.
Did you discover something about Queen Mary (or others) that you didn’t know before?
HV: Yes I certainly did – including a story about the man she might really have wished to marry. There was a fair amount that Pope-Hennessy did not dare to publish way back in 1959. His 1959 book is great and he says a lot – he proves that you can write an official biography and make it eminently readable, but some things were not appropriate. The Duke of Gloucester really came to life in these notes, in the most magnificent way.
Did anything change your perspective on the Queen?
HV: No, I don’t think so, but I got to know Queen Mary much better.
You’ve written about many famous and historic people, both royal and non-royal. Who has been your favorite so far?
HV: Gladys Deacon, Duchess of Marlborough will always be my favourite. I will probably be remembered more for Cecil Beaton.
Writing a book and editing a book – is one more challenging than the other?
HV: Well, editing a book you have some text already written by someone else – it could be their diary or some essays as in this case. So that is obviously very much easier than writing a whole book, which has to be researched and could go anywhere.