In which I reveal my Innermost Self

Regular readers of this blog will know that the general tone is amusing self-deprecation.  (You didn’t realise it was supposed to be amusing?  Oh. There’ll be a momentary pause while my crest falls.) However, in this blog we are not afraid to Get Serious on occasion, and in this case, very serious indeed.  This interview about my core values, in the glossy magazine Psychologies, was done in a few minutes over the phone while I was quite possibly dealing with a few emails at the same time, but the writer Elizabeth Heathcote has actually made me sound coherent (I think), reasonable (I think) and, in short, like the kind of person I aspire to be.  And on top of that, the very talented photographer Ian Derry has made me look like myself, but 25% better.

Psychologies interview‘Lucy Worsley Shared Values 

I have always worked for organisations I can believe in. I’ve always wanted to feel that, in some small way, what I was doing was making the world a fairer place.

I stand up for geeks, nerds and bookworms – they need defending.  I’m not very gregarious, I don’t make friends easily, and that’s fine.  One of the great things about being a grown-up is realising that it’s OK to be an introvert.

A core value for me is the pursuit of excellence.  Both my parents have been involved in teaching and learning, in valuing brains over beauty and working hard.

I remember the general election in 1979.  I was lying in bed [aged five] and my mother said, ‘It’s election night, who do you want to win?’ And I said, ‘Mrs Thatcher, because she’s a lady’. I remember my mum laughing and saying, ‘No you don’t – even though she’s a lady’. My mum believed in all the things I believe in – I got them from her.

History is important. If you survey the panorama of history you see that some things used to be worse, some things used to be better and that things can change. It gives you a sense of perspective; a sense of being a small figure in a vast universe.

My favourite figure from history has to be Elizabeth I because she is so indomitable.

Fear of violence is an important part of modern urban life. In cities, we are remote from nature, from life and death, but those events still matter and we’re attracted to them. And one safe way in is through reading detective fiction or other sorts of murderous entertainment. Our taste for these things emerged very suddenly with industrialisation in the early 19th century, and continues to the present day.

Those computer games where you go round shooting women on the streets of Los Angeles – to us they can seem absolutely shocking and horrible and, to some extent, like a new thing, but the Victorians had that very same taste for blood.

I would not say that I’ve never considered having children, but it never appeared attractive to me by comparison to the other things that I was doing.  That is my decision and I’m comfortable with it. But what I resent is the fact that if I were a man, just turned 40 as I have, I could say – right, well I’ve done some things with my career, let’s start thinking about this children business – and I would have about 20 years in which to do so. I feel very strongly that women in their thirties are penalised for having children. The world is not set up for women having it all.  They can do it, but they end up having to pay a really high price for it.

My top value is equality.  As I work for an organisation with the word ‘royal’ in its title, people don’t realise what a lefty I am. I would like everybody to have the same chance in life, which is not the case, and that riles me.

I struggle with being photographed because not only am I a feminist, I am also an art historian – I know the power of the image and how that can be distorted and manipulated. But I think of a 15-year-old girl in Nottingham trying to decide what she wants to do with her life, as I once was – I would prefer that girl picked up a magazine and saw a historian instead of a reality TV star, or someone who’s won the lottery, or yet another man.’



24 thoughts on “In which I reveal my Innermost Self

  1. Claire

    Thank you for your openness, Lucy. As an introverted, egalitarian, lefty bookworm who is trying to find her way in life, I appreciate it enormously.

  2. Harry Butler MBE

    Please don’t give up on being photographed – you are a delight.

  3. David Cant

    Thank you for sharing – looking forward to next appearance on TV. Is that so different from being photographed?

  4. Kevan Yates

    Your last statement is so important.
    Not just for the 15 old girls of this world. Carry on the great work on making history live.

  5. Julie

    …keeping it real! I love that. Good to know more about you.. Thank you for being a role model with an honest & healthy outlook..our children need more of these. Keep up the good work x x

  6. Andrew West

    Oh come on Lucy! You’re stunning! And the intelligence and self-knowledge shines through.

  7. Patti

    I like your show very much and think you are very clever. However, I’m disappointed in your simplistic ideological faith in socialism, an economic system which brings only equality of misery. It’s a shame your knowledge of history hasn’t taught you the importance of individual and economic freedom.

    1. Solomon Scribble

      Woah, there goes a man of straw…Being a ‘lefty’ is not the same as being a Socialist, at least not in the sense that you appear to imply. To call such a passing reference ‘simplistic’ is, well, simplistic!

  8. Richard Woods

    Your innermost self is what makes you shine so well. Empathy and generosity of spirit – such joyous companions.

  9. Susie Baby

    The election night bed time anecdote started so well, yet disappointed in the climax. Sad face from me. 🙁

  10. Urs D'Asti

    Lucy, a great big hello from Ottawa, Ontario. I absolutely love your shows. Your passion for history is utterly infectious. I cannot wait for the next instalment of whatever it may be you will feature in. Keep it coming. You are a wonderful role model for girls and women everywhere. Thank you.

  11. Paul Pelosi

    Will you be at the 2014 Hay Festival?

  12. Susan D

    “…I would prefer that girl picked up a magazine and saw a historian instead of a reality TV star, or someone who’s won the lottery, or yet another man.”

    Yes. You go, girl.

  13. Jenna Hall

    Good interview. Like it and like you more for it.!,

  14. Angela

    We enjoy your programmes which always give a balanced view. Thank you for supporting those of us who felt that we didn’t want to give up fulfilling jobs/lives to have children. I agree though that having a longer window of opportunity to decide like men would be good although I think big lifestyle changes are harder to make as you get older anyway. Best wishes.

  15. Norbert Fronczak

    Yes, history is extremely important & needs to be taught more thoroughly, at least here in Michigan, U.S. Thanks to my parents, I was exposed to fine art & history during my formative years, which isn’t bad for people who didn’t have the advantage of a higher education. I’m only sorry now that I didn’t decide to go into that field when I was in college. I see that you have a great enthusiasm for your work which is becoming rarer & rarer it seems these days. I enjoy all of your presentations & have learned so much that I thought I already knew. Thank you again!

  16. Solomon Scribble

    Great interview! Great that you’re there for the intellectual and the underdog too. Love the bit about being an introvert as well! As a 30-year old I’m finally enjoying the pleasures of being quiet, book reading books, being socially awkward and not feeling bad about it!

  17. Jackie P

    Lucy, you are amazing! I have been greatly inspired by your shows, your books and your blog. I find so much pleasure in your work. Thank you very much.

  18. Chris Hough

    As an introverted book worm whose greatest pleasures are silence self and the printed word Thankyou on behalf of those like us every where for saying its OK not to folow the herd.

  19. Richard Cowley

    Thank you Lucy, your shows on the tv are so interesting and informative, no doubt you will curry interest in history as a carreer in other young people too, love watching you.
    havent had a chance to read your books yet but will do so soon.
    Take care Lucy, your a star XX

  20. Patrick and Jean Hickey

    Hello Lucy, Thank you for your unusually informative and amusing historical programs. We love the humor you impart into your presentations and look forward to many more of them.
    We’ve just been reading the article in the Radio Times (26th April-2nd May) by Rosie Millard, (perhaps I should say “Millard”) discussing your latest series and has a full page photograph that we think captures your personality very well. Well done! Please keep them coming, power to you.

  21. Michele & Stephen Marck

    Hi Lucy, my wife and I find you just as fascinating as your programmes. Really entertaining as well as factual. We also love your style, and cuteness. You would look absolutely great in one of Michele’s handmade 1930’s/50’s sweaters We also chose to opt out of children too, much less hassle. Keep up the good work!

  22. Amy Schneidhorst

    Thank you so much for your candor about the double standard regarding women and men and delaying or not having children at all. The more people without children (me included) speak out , the less power the negative stereotypes will hold, here’s hoping.

  23. Angantyr

    Your mother sounds very wise, as evidences by her comment regarding Thatcher! Too many people make the mistake of voting for someone based on gender and race rather than actually ideals and policies. I’d vote for a baboon if he was standing for what I, who is more left than Karl Marx, believe is right and fair. Ideological kinship transcends petty gender politics.

    You are right about the power of the image and regarding the double standard regarding women having children. I am not sure why in the 20th Century women are still expected to have children as a rule. Not only is this simply reenforcing outdated gender roles but the world is becoming overpopulated too! And when a woman refuses to have children they are often declared as lesbians as if there is something wrong with that also, which opens up another can of worms!

    And the photo does look marvelous. But have no fear, you actually always look that way; a truthful compliment!


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