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A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III
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Henry Holt and Co. 2014
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The Times Best Books of the Year

  • The Sunday Times Best Books of the Year
    The New Statesman Book of the Year selection by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
    BBC History Magazine Book of the Year selection by Helen Rappaport

    "A masterpiece . . . . [T]his heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner." —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
    "[A] fascinating, story-filled account . . . . Each story is a revelation." —Jenny Uglow, The Guardian
    The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III's radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children
    In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether—compelling and relatable.
    He was the first of Britain's three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.
    Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king—a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background—of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal—George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.
    The struggle of King George—along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children—to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.

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    Street Date:
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    Janice Hadlow. (2014). A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III. Henry Holt and Co.

    Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

    Janice Hadlow. 2014. A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III. Henry Holt and Co.

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    Janice Hadlow, A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III. Henry Holt and Co, 2014.

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    Janice Hadlow. A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III. Henry Holt and Co, 2014. Web.

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        • bioText: Janice Hadlow worked at the BBC for more than two decades, and for ten of those years she ran BBC Two and BBC Four, two of the broadcaster's major television channels. She was educated at Swanley School in Kent and graduated with a first class degree in history from King's college, London. She is the author of A Royal Experiment, a biography of Great Britain's King George III. She currently lives in Edinburgh. The Other Bennet Sister is her first novel.
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    The Times Best Books of the Year

  • The Sunday Times Best Books of the Year
    The New Statesman Book of the Year selection by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
    BBC History Magazine Book of the Year selection by Helen Rappaport

    "A masterpiece . . . . [T]his heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner." —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
    "[A] fascinating, story-filled account . . . . Each story is a revelation." —Jenny Uglow, The Guardian
    The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III's radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children
    In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and...
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    title
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    fullDescription

    The Times Best Books of the Year

  • The Sunday Times Best Books of the Year
    The New Statesman Book of the Year selection by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
    BBC History Magazine Book of the Year selection by Helen Rappaport

    "A masterpiece . . . . [T]his heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner." —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
    "[A] fascinating, story-filled account . . . . Each story is a revelation." —Jenny Uglow, The Guardian
    The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III's radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children
    In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether—compelling and relatable.
    He was the first of Britain's three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.
    Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king—a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background—of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal—George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.
    The struggle of King George—along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children—to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.

  • sortTitle
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    reviews
        • premium: False
        • source: The New York Times Book Review
        • content:

          "Fascinating . . . . Hadlow paints subtle psychological portraits . . . . [She] has extensively researched this story, never rushing through the 'highlights' and giving a full picture of the family members in all their facets. She even dares to touch on the endless boredom of life at court . . . without ever becoming boring herself."

        • premium: False
        • source: Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire
        • content: "Janice Hadlow's A Royal Experiment is a masterpiece. Beautifully written, impeccably researched, this heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner."
        • premium: False
        • source: Simon Schama, whose works include The Embarrassment of Riches and The Story of the Jews
        • content: "From the first pages of Janice Hadlow's enthralling A Royal Experiment you know you are in the hands of a master narrator as well as a profoundly perceptive historian. And like all great historical writing, the book transcends its immediate story--gripping and moving though that is--to be a timeless reflection on the human condition."
        • premium: False
        • source: Shelf Awareness
        • content: "Hadlow presents a richer portrait of the regent, showing him as son, husband and father as well as ruler. . . . A Royal Experiment will appeal to lovers of biography, Georgian England or royal scandal."
        • premium: True
        • source: Publisher's Weekly
        • content:

          October 20, 2014
          Beginning with the ill-fated match of George I and Sophia Dorothea, the stage was set for the Hanoverian royals: rifts between husband and wife, and father and son, were the standard family dynamic. But in this engrossing and thorough portrait, BBC executive Hadlow reveals George III as a young man who wanted change—one who believed being a good king started with being a good person, a good husband, and a good father—and he set out to pursue a moral family life. He got off to a relatively good start, according to Hadlow, arranging a fulfilling marriage with Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, moving the family to a more private residence, and being actively involved in the informal raising of 15 children. Hadlow reveals the difficulties of living a private life in the public sphere and how, despite George III's good intentions, the tension of succession, political difficulties (including the American war of independence and conflict with the French), and a fall into fits of madness dominated royal family relations. Hadlow provides a critical, yet compassionate and intimate account of George III's trials and tribulations in undertaking to create the ideal family. Agent: Peter Robinson; Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.).

        • premium: True
        • source: Kirkus
        • content:

          October 15, 2014
          Longtime BBC staffer Hadlow debuts with a new take on England's King George III. "As George saw it," writes the author "[a] legacy of amoral, cynical behavior had warped and corrupted the Hanoverians, crippling their effectiveness as rulers and making their private lives miserable." When he came to the throne in 1760, he vowed to be a better parent than his great-grandfather George I, who had his own son arrested, and a better husband than his flagrantly philandering grandfather George II. In so doing, George III aimed to make the royal family a moral example to the nation. This notion-that the king's duty was "to act as the conscience of the country," avoiding day-to-day politicking-is in some ways an early definition of the modern constitutional monarchy, and Hadlow might profitably have pursued it more fully. Her real interest, though, is a detailed account of George's generally happy marriage to Charlotte, princess of the German duchy Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and the not-so-happy consequences for their 13 children. Little of it seems to have much to do with her thesis. George III had just as poisonous a relationship with his eldest son, who openly supported the political opposition and brandished a lifestyle contrary to his father's principles, as George's own father, Frederick, had with George II-for the same reasons. The sad stories of the royal princesses, who either died as spinsters or married late with severely reduced expectations, certainly were linked to George's insistence that proper family life was firmly secluded from the temptations of court (indeed, from almost any entertainment whatsoever), but none of this adds up to a coherent picture of George's reign or legacy. Extended forays into the king's periods of madness, which began in 1788 and finally incapacitated him for good in 1811, also diffuse the narrative focus. Unconvincing as revisionist history but enjoyable for its vivid depiction of several varieties of royal lifestyles-and plenty of royal gossip.

          COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

        • premium: True
        • source: Library Journal
        • content:

          November 1, 2014

          Although George III (r. 1760-1820) is most remembered for his "tyrannical" behavior toward the American colonies and episodes of "madness" that resulted from a mysterious affliction unknown to 18th-century medicine, the king was unlike nearly all his Hanoverian predecessors in his desire to live a devoted, righteous, and moral family life. In the process, he hoped to remake the monarchy into a national model for principled domestic happiness. Using a vast array of sources, Hadlow (controller, seasons and special projects; BBC) has written an engrossing saga detailing the private lives and domestic relationships of George, his wife, Charlotte, and their 15 sons and daughters. This is a positive and poignant portrayal of the king's successes and failures as a husband and father. Sufficient historical context is provided so that readers may understand the political and international events of the era, but political details never cloud the personal side of this story. Readers will learn about the lonely journey of Queen Charlotte, who endured years of perpetual childbearing, survived the deaths of several of her children, and witnessed the physical and mental disintegration of her husband. VERDICT Although the length and painstakingly researched detail of this saga may be too much for most general readers, lovers of biography and those intrigued by dynastic and royal life should enjoy it. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/13.]--Marie M. Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ

          Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

        • premium: True
        • source: Booklist
        • content:

          Starred review from October 15, 2014
          Common knowledge insists that King George III of Great Britain (who reigned from 1760 to 1820) and his German-born consort, Queen Charlotte, enjoyed a happy marriage. Hadlow, offering a particularly incisiveand, it should be stressed, completely accessibleunderstanding of America's last king, posits that George's marital situation was no fortunate accident. The title of her revisionist biography seems curious at first, given this king's conservative reputation, such that his reputed narrow-mindedness is often cited as a major reason for Britain's loss of the American colonies. In other words, how could the word experiment be in any fashion associated with him? The theme diligently followed here is that George III, the third king of the Hanoverian line that succeeded the Stuarts as British monarchs, whose accession at age 22 was roundly applauded, had as his primary mission upon his elevation to the throne to be a new kind of king. Essentially a good-hearted man, George pledged he would be a moral agent for the common good, leading (as a moral compass ) his subjects beyond selfish personal interests and out into the wider realm of goodness in public life. The king realized that to achieve such a change, he would need to conduct his own family life in exemplary moral fashion. What that meant specifically was that his wife and children would have to live well together in a happy, productive family environment, in great contrast to the feuds that marked the home life of his Hanoverian predecessors. As a new model king, dedicated to service and duty, he was determined to reject a malignant inheritance of emotional dysfunction that had been handed down from generation to generation. Until George III's final collapse into irreversible insanity a half-century after his accession, these principles of good domestic behavior dictated his actions in both private and public sectors. And the exercise of virtue was how he expected his wife and children to conduct themselves, particularly when it came to their relations with each other. The foundation of his regimen was finding the right wife, and Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz immediately fit the bill. With her, George entered into a genuine partnership, forged in private intimacy. Queen Charlotte would bear 15 children, and she soon realized that while the king's love for her was genuine, she would, to be a successful wife and consort, have to sublimate herself to his personality and interests. As Hadlow summarizes, If there was a price to be paid for the success of George and Charlotte's marriage, it was clear from the outset that it would be Charlotte's duty to pay it. And George also attempted to exert his control over his numerous children even into their adulthood, his daughters proving to be more malleable subjects than his rebellious sons. Hadlow acknowledges that George's great effort to establish a new kind of royal family life was at best a qualified success. But her final conclusions about the king and his effect paint a more successful picture. It was his granddaughter Queen Victoria in which his ideals were settled. She and her consort, Prince Albert, created an image of monarchy that King George would have approved of: to reflect the domestic virtues of the people over whom Victoria reigned. Further, Victoria and Albert's adherence to duty and obligation, which were the pillars of George III's program, was responsible for keeping the British monarchy alive and well into the twenty-first century. In this respect at least, his great royal experiment left a legacy with which he himself would have been entirely satisfied. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright...

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