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Queen Boudica and Historical Culture in BritainAn Image of Truth$
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Martha Vandrei

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198816720

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198816720.001.0001

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‘A great deal of historical claptrap’

‘A great deal of historical claptrap’

Heroine of Empire

(p.146) 5 ‘A great deal of historical claptrap’
Queen Boudica and Historical Culture in Britain

Martha Vandrei

Oxford University Press

This chapter’s focus is the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during which Boudica was immortalized in Thomas Thornycroft’s statue on Westminster Bridge. This chapter seeks to provide a thick and thorough contextualization of this event and its precursors, focusing in particular on Boudica’s role in the history of London, but also on Thornycroft’s own motivations and preoccupations, which have been overlooked by historians. This chapter also explores the first novelization of Boudica’s deeds, a firmly imperialistic account by Marie Trevelyan. This period has been read as the climax of Boudica’s association with imperial greatness—a connection I do not seek to wholly refute. However, Thornycroft’s own understanding of his statue challenges this, while Trevelyan’s conviction was met with credulity by contemporaries. Focusing on these hitherto overlooked points of view sheds light on the complicated relations between pasts and presents.

Keywords:   Victorian heroism, imperialism, Thomas Thornycroft (1815–85), historical novels, criticism and reception

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