Some of us take great satisfaction in the work we have done; and I would be among them. But I had no idea when I started this blog that I would bring back together a community who loved Victoria as much as I did. All over again this past year, I have felt that rare flush of joy when one of you remembered, so kindly, what the staff of the magazine, begun in 1987, has meant to you.
Just after leaving Victoria, I asked a dear old friend, and a venerable man in publishing: Just how was it that the readers of the magazine found it so intimate and inspiring? (And of course, one has to know that not everyone loved Victoria.) He looked at me across a lunch table and said: "Nancy, these readers believe that you know and understand them. They think of you as a friend because of that." He was right that I and the staff had a special connection to our readers. I believe it was in part because we all started out together with hearts and minds in the same place.
I have quoted dozens and dozens of times a letter I received with the publication of the first issue. I know it by heart:
Dear Gentle People, How did you know?
That was the extent of the letter, but there was no reason to say more. Yes, I did know that reader. I know that she wanted grace and beauty in her life and she wanted to taste the richness of women's achievements in all the areas of life that many of us had overlooked as being "women's stuff." The world was forgetting the quiet pleasure of polishing a silver spoon and perhaps writing a note on paper you shopped for all afternoon.
The publishing world never seemed to completely understand the people who made the first issue of Victoria a newsstand sellout. I think I can tell a little secret here that I don't often share: Some of the folks on the business side of the magazine had prepared their reasons why the magazine hadn't worked to clients who advertised in that early issue. Of course, that was a prudent thing to have done. But luckily, it wasn't necessary. The first issue was a newsstand sellout and the rest is history for me until that day in 2000 when I gracefully made an exit.
It wasn't that I no longer cared. It was that I thought my work was done--and like Queen Victoria, I had done it well. (That is what the crowds in London shouted at her as she rode in her carriage on one one of her last trips through the streets.) I have taken great satisfaction in the work I have done--and I have delight in the people I did it with. It has been even more of a "best" to read here how much it has meant to some of you. Naturally, not everyone who reads this blog is a Victoria person; but it seems many of you are.
Thank you for making my 2009 special, and I hope that while you continue to enjoy the past, we all come along to find the new and the enduring. It was Lillian Hellman who reminded us not to love the past better than the present. And now we are in a new year and on a new journey. I have plans and I'd love to hear some of yours...