Oct 1 2012
Most people who are familiar with the expression attribute it to Queen Victoria, and they’re almost right, except that the quotation itself is inaccurate. There was once an extraordinarily and embarrassingly bad Scots poet called William Magonigall, who incurred Her Majesty’s wrath by dedicating a self-published book of his own appallingly bad poetry to her gracious Majesty, naming her as the Fount of his inspiration. The fellow had a very high opinion of himself and his self-anointed talents and referred to himself as, “William Magonigall, Poet and Tragedian” (Google him for yourself. You’ll see I’m not kidding.)
Victoria was noted (and still is) for her lack of humour, and she had a priggish, disapproving and unforgiving attitude to anyone and everyone who dared to flout her own notions of what was right and fitting in practically every aspect of life from morality to protocol, and she was outraged to be thus publicly named as an Inspiration by an ill-mannered scribe who had not thought it fit to approach her through the proper channels to seek her royal permission (which she would, of course, have properly withheld) before presuming to use her name.
When she heard about the book and its Dedication, the Old Widow of Windsor was appropriately scandalized at such a breach of manners and protocol, and uttered the now immortal words of scorn, but what she actually said was, “We are NOT a Muse!”