Part history of the science of sound recording, part detective story, The Lost Voice of Queen Victoria lets readers follow along on author Paul Tritton's quest to track down the elusive wax-coated cardboard cylinder that may contain the only surviving recording of Queen Victoria's voice.
In the summer of 1888 Sydney Morse took a Graphophone (one of the earliest versions of the machines later to be generically called gramophones, which would eventually evolve into record players) to Balmoral Castle to demonstrate to Queen Victoria. Such was Her Majesty's admiration for this new invention, that she let herself be persuaded to speak a few words into the machine.
While researching acclaimed British engineer Henry Edmunds, who was present in the lab the historic day Thomas Edison made the first sound recording, and spoke the words "Mary had a little lamb" into a hand cranked tinfoil gramophone, Paul Tritton discovered this all but forgotten vignette of Victorian history and embarked upon a quest to locate the cylinder and hear the voice of Victoria combing through wills and letters and seeking out descendants of Sydney Morse and Henry Edmunds.
Although a little too technical at times for my own taste, I nonetheless enjoyed spending an afternoon accompanying the author on his quest to solve this historical mystery.