It’s heartbreak in a time of cholera when the ruthless disease sweeps through Episode 4 and cruelly takes a favorite character with it. Which of the episode’s dramatic events are true? Find out from Victoria writer and creator Daisy Goodwin!
Fact or Fiction: Victoria met Dr. Snow.
Fact: She did meet him, but not then. He was actually very important to her, because he was the man who gave her chloroform with her seventh child. I’ve put the action here a bit earlier than it happened, because he didn’t actually find out about the cause of cholera until the 1850s, but it did happen exactly like that. She did know Snow but she wasn’t quite as involved as she is here.
Fact or Fiction: Victoria met with Florence Nightingale.
Fact: Yes, she did meet Florence Nightingale, but again, that was a little bit later. She and Florence Nightingale became quite friendly, in fact, but that was after the Crimean War. During the war, of course, everyone was very pro-Nightingale.
Fact or Fiction: Victoria ventured into a sick ward at her own peril.
(Likely) Fact: I think she did do a bit of that, yeah. That’s non-specific, yet she was pretty fearless when it came to doing stuff like that, so she may not have done that actual thing but I based it on the sort of thing that she would do.
Fact or Fiction: Albert was initially unwanted for the position at Cambridge.
Fact: Yes, that’s all true, that whole episode! He was asked to take up the post, and then when he started saying well, I’m going to do it, and these are the things we’re going to do when I’m Chancellor, everybody was like What?! He didn’t understand that it’s a completely honorific position—you’re not actually meant to interfere…And so they tried to get rid of him! But luckily, he prevailed.
Fact or Fiction: The cholera outbreak happened as shown in Victoria.
Fact: As Daisy Goodwin notes above, the cholera outbreak depicted in Episode 4 occurred earlier than the actual 1854 Soho outbreak, which culminated in Dr. John Snow’s discovery of the Broad Street pump dispersing contaminated water. But the time shift is the only large difference. As in the episode, Florence Nightingale volunteered at a hospital during the outbreak; Snow mapped the cases of cholera, identifying the pump by the dots clustered around it; the brewery’s workers didn’t suffer during the outbreak because they drank more beer than water (which was from a different source, anyway); and the handle was removed from the contaminated pump. All this, sadly, is true.
What did Charles Dickens write about Seven Dials, the site of Francatelli and Skerrett’s fictitious restaurant? Find out, and see more real images corresponding to the people and events in Victoria, Episode 4.