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George III

The Life and Reign of Britain's Most Misunderstood Monarch

Andrew Roberts



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Allen Lane
03 January 2022
One of Britain's premier historians overturns received wisdom on a much-maligned king.

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.
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 50mm
Weight:   1.344kg
ISBN:   9780241413333
ISBN 10:   0241413338
Pages:   784
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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 Napoleon 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

Reviews for George III: The Life and Reign of Britain's Most Misunderstood Monarch

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 * 'Andrew Roberts is our most prodigious biographer ... His demolition of the authors of the Declaration's case against George III is elegant and comprehensive. -- Dominic Lawson * Daily Mail * Magisterial ... George III is notorious for two reasons: losing America and going mad. Roberts provides a fresh and spirited account of both occurrences ... Roberts's fundamentally humane approach to his biographical subjects ... treats George III with as much respect and compassion when sick, blind and deaf as when powerful at the promising start of his reign. The result is a lengthy book that remains engaging throughout. -- Ruth Scurr * The Times * powerful ... a very fine book ... This book should be read by every American whose interest in history goes beyond the feel-good. It is challenging, but richly evidenced and scrupulously argued. ... Coming after his powerful studies of Halifax, Salisbury, Napoleon and Churchill, it consolidates Roberts's position as one of the greatest biographers in the English language today. -- Noel Malcolm * Daily Telegraph * If not for such fierce competition (in the form of such works as Salisbury: Victorian Titan, Churchill: Walking with Destiny and Masters & Commanders) one might be able to unequivocally say that George III is the author's masterpiece. This biography teems with detail, ideas and elegance. Roberts is a great writer - and this is one of his greatest achievements. Roberts sets himself a goal, that of challenging or overturning certain misconceptions that we might harbour about his subject. That George III was a tyrant, unintelligent and a victim of porphyria. Suffice to say, Roberts achieves his goal: mission impossible turns into mission accomplished. Roberts convinces through both persuasive prose and hard evidence (as opposed to just supposition). ... magnificent -- Richard Foreman * Aspects of History * George may become Britain's best-understood monarch, thanks to this impressive new biography. It is unashamedly revisionist. ... Roberts's account is masterly, combining a compelling narrative - one has to keep turning the pages even though one knows the outcome - with analysis that is both cogent and incisive. He appears to have read everything that is in the mainstream and much that isn't, including a wide range of archival sources. ... [George III] has had to wait two centuries for rehabilitation, but it has come at last. Roberts has got deep inside George and his world and has found a man of many sterling qualities. ... tremendous -- Tim Blanning * Literary Review * In this magisterial life of George III, Roberts burnishes his stellar reputation as biographer and historian, dismantling many of the myths that have beset the memory of the man who ruled Britain and Ireland for almost sixty years from 1760. Roberts marshals the evidence meticulously and persuasively to show that George was nothing like the capricious, overbearing, intolerable figure of legend ... It is bracing, too, to see that Roberts has lost none of his disdain for the Whig interpretation of history - the comfort blanket of those who believe that Britain's story is one of the steady institutional defeat of autocracy by liberal incrementalism. Now at the top of his game, he has not surrendered the irreverent, revisionist tone that has made him one of the most important public intellectuals of our times. -- Matthew d'Ancona * Tortoise * This superb royal biography ... A book so diligently researched cannot fail to be rich in curious detail and amusing turns of phrase. There are plums on almost every page. -- Hamish Robinson * The Oldie * The strength of this generous new biography is that it correctly portrays George III as a dedicated, benevolent ruler , scrupulous in his constitutional role as head of government and head of state. -- John Martin Robinson * Country Life * Andrew Roberts admires George III, and he is right to do so. The historical image of the king as a tyrant and a lunatic is not remotely true in the first case (a contention Roberts provides much evidence to substantiate) and true only for part of his reign in the second. ... A handsome and thorough biography ... but above all, Roberts has written a superlative political history of the period between 1760 and 1809. -- Simon Heffer * New Criterion * he does his scholarly homework. This is a compendious product of intricate investigation. Roberts has read everything ... It is a magnificent achievement. -- Kate Maltby * Spectator * Andrew Roberts makes a strong revisionist case for the generally maligned George III in this engrossing, brilliant biography -- Andrew Adonis * Prospect Magazine * As his outstanding books on Halifax, Salisbury and Churchill also demonstrate, he is a master of the biography. ... Roberts systematically, cogently and helpfully reinterprets his subject's role and reputation. -- Jeremy Black * History Today * In this mammoth and meticulous biography, Andrew Roberts presents a compelling case for the defence of George III. -- Book of the Week * The Week * Such is Roberts's persuasive interpretation, supported by a wide range of sources and argued with keen insight into political realities. ... It must be hoped that Andrew Roberts's important, serious and timely book plays an appropriate role in the rethinking that can now hardly be avoided. -- Jonathan Clark * Times Literary Supplement * magnificent ... In Andrew Roberts, George has found his Boswell, but one with the wit and erudition of a Johnson. Britain's most misunderstood monarch he may have been, but this biographer has entered into this conscientious king's troubled mind with more than customary empathy. -- Daniel Johnson * Spectator USA * Roberts harnesses a truly extraordinary amount of archival information to offer a comprehensive grasp of a rather tragic, thoroughly misunderstood king. -- Lindsay Chervinsky * Financial Times * Andrew Roberts's mighty Life, drawing on masses of unseen papers locked up in Windsor Castle, turns on its head the lazy idea of George III as a tyrant halfwit...every page is entertaining -- Iona McLaren * Daily Telegraph Books of the Year * meticulously researched ... an eye-opening portrait of the man and his times * Publishers Weekly * A deep, expansive study not only of George III but also of the political and social complexities of England and the United States during his reign. -- Kathleen McCallister * Library Journal * a deeply textured portrait of George III [and] a capacious, prodigiously researched biography from a top-shelf historian. -- Kirkus

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