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Re: [ARSCLIST] Queen Victoria

The Science Museum in London owns a cylinder which is allegedly a recording
of Queen Victoria made in 1888.  There is documentary evidence that Queen
Victoria was demonstrated a Graphophone recording machine in that year.

In 1991 the Science Museum asked the British Library Sound Archive for help
in transferring the cylinder and we were able to oblige.  The cylinder
contains three "tracks" or separate recordings.  One is in the opposite
direction from the other two.  One recording is of a man (?) whistling, one
has so much surface noise that nothing can be discerned and another has the
recording of a woman's voice.

Some words can be made out: "My fellow Britons...." at the beginning and
"...I have never forgotten." at the end, with the "track" lasting circa
twenty seconds.  Even with much CEDAR processing etc we cannot improve on
that (for the time being, anyway).

There is no certainty that the recording is of Queen Victoria. It is
possible to be a recording of a lady-in-waiting or another person present.
Queen Victoria was not particularly shy or a shrinking violet but it may be
that to shout or at least speak in an exaggerated way down a speaking tube
(to energise the diaphragm and stylus) whilst in the presence of a
"tradesman" demonstrating the machine, representatives of the "great and the
good" of British court society, visiting dignitaries, servants and flunkies
may have been beneath her dignity.  Queen Victoria may have instructed an
aide to make the recording on her behalf.  (The opinion contained in this
paragraph is my own personal view).

There is, as pointed out by John Ross, a suggestion that Queen Victoria
recorded a message, on disc, for the King of Ethiopia and it was destroyed
according to her wishes after it was played to the King.  No copies have so
far surfaced, nor remnants of the original.

Nigel Bewley
British Library Sound Archive

-----Original Message-----
From: Neal Lavon [mailto:nlavon@xxxxxxx]
Sent: 24 June 2003 04:32
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria died in 1901. Is there any evidence that she ever made a
voice recording?

Neal Lavon
Voice of America
Washington, D.C.


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