George III

George III

The Life and Reign of Britain's Most Misunderstood Monarch

Summary

The Times Book of the Year

*Winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, 2022*
*Winner of the General Society of Colonial Wars' Distinguished Book Award, 2021*
*Winner of the History Reclaimed Book of the Year, 2022*
*Shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize, 2021*

Andrew Roberts, one of Britain's premier historians, overturns the received wisdom on George III

George III, Britain's longest-reigning king, has gone down in history as 'the cruellest tyrant of this age' (Thomas Paine, eighteenth century), 'a sovereign who inflicted more profound and enduring injuries upon this country than any other modern English king' (W.E.H. Lecky, nineteenth century), 'one of England's most disastrous kings' (J.H. Plumb, twentieth century) and as the pompous monarch of the musical Hamilton (twenty-first century).

Andrew Roberts's magnificent new biography takes entirely the opposite view. It portrays George as intelligent, benevolent, scrupulously devoted to the constitution of his country and (as head of government as well as head of state) navigating the turbulence of eighteenth-century politics with a strong sense of honour and duty. He was a devoted husband and family man, a great patron of the arts and sciences, keen to advance Britain's agricultural capacity ('Farmer George') and determined that her horizons should be global. He could be stubborn and self-righteous, but he was also brave, brushing aside numerous assassination attempts, galvanising his ministers and generals at moments of crisis and stoical in the face of his descent - five times during his life - into a horrifying loss of mind.

The book gives a detailed, revisionist account of the American Revolutionary War, persuasively taking apart a significant proportion of the Declaration of Independence, which Roberts shows to be largely Jeffersonian propaganda. In a later war, he describes how George's support for William Pitt was crucial in the battle against Napoleon. And he makes a convincing, modern diagnosis of George's terrible malady, very different to the widely accepted medical view and to popular portrayals.

Roberts writes, 'the people who knew George III best loved him the most', and that far from being a tyrant or incompetent, George III was one of our most admirable monarchs. The diarist Fanny Burney, who spent four years at his court and saw him often, wrote 'A noble sovereign this is, and when justice is done to him, he will be as such acknowledged'. In presenting this fresh view of Britain's most misunderstood monarch, George III shows one of Britain's premier historians at his sparkling best.

Reviews

  • George, Roberts writes, "more than filled the role of King of Great Britain worthily; he filled it nobly". After reading this mammoth, elegant and splendidly researched biography, no open-minded reader could possibly disagree - not even an American.

    Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

About the author

Andrew Roberts

Andrew Roberts is a biographer and historian of international renown whose books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan (winner of the Wolfson Prize for History), Masters and Commanders (winner of the Emery Reves Award), The Storm of War (winner of the British Army Book Prize), Napoleon the Great (winner of the Grand Prix of the Fondation Napoléon and the Los Angeles Times Biography Prize) and Leadership in War. His Churchill: Walking with Destiny (2018) was acclaimed as 'undoubtedly the best single-volume life of Churchill ever written' (Sunday Times) and was a major bestseller in UK and USA. Roberts is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of Literature and the Royal Historical Society, and a Trustee of the International Churchill Society. He is currently Visiting Professor at the Department of War Studies at King's College, London, and the Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is www.andrew-roberts.net.
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