Books: Royal Letter-Opener

HENRY PONSONBY—Arthur Ponsonby —Macmillan ($3.75).

Every morning for 25 years (1870-95) a solemn, bearded man in frock coat, droopy trousers and elastic-sided boots opened Queen Victoria's mail. General Sir Henry Frederick Ponsonby was the Widow of Windsor's Private Secretary. Over the years, in daily letters to his wife and in countless jottings, Ponsonby charted the awesome complexities of his job. Out of this mass of papers his son, Arthur (Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede), a onetime page at the Queen's court (see cut), has contrived a book which is both a biography of his father and a candid portrait of the Queen in...

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