The Strangest Family: The Private Lives of George III, Queen Charlotte and the Hanoverians

By Janice Hadlow

An intensely moving account of George III’s doomed attempt to create a happy, harmonious family, written with astonishing emotional force by a stunning new history writer.

George III came to the throne in 1760 as a man with a mission. He wanted to be a new kind of king, one whose power was rooted in the affection and approval of his people. And he was determined to revolutionise his private life too, breaking with the extraordinarily dysfunctional home lives of his Hanoverian predecessors. He was sure that as a faithful husband and a loving father, he would be not just a happier man but a better ruler as well.

During the early part of his reign it seemed as if, against all the odds, his great family project was succeeding. His wife, Queen Charlotte, shared his sense of moral purpose, and together they raised their fifteen children in a climate of loving attention. But as the children grew older, and their wishes and desires developed away from those of their father, it became harder to maintain the illusion of domestic harmony. The king’s episodes of madness undermined the bedrock of their marriage; his disapproving distance from the bored and purposeless princes, especially the dissolute Prince of Wales, alienated them; and his determination to keep the princesses at home, protected from the potential horrors of the European marriage market, left them lonely, bitter and resentful.

‘The Strangest Family’ is an epic, sprawling family drama, filled with intensely realised characters who leap off the page as we are led deep inside the private lives of the Hanoverians. Written with astonishing emotional force by a stunning new voice in history writing, it is both a window on another world and a universal story that will resonate powerfully with modern readers.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 28 Aug 2014
Pages: 704
ISBN: 978-0-00-716519-3
Janice Hadlow is Controller, Special Projects and Seasons at the BBC. In her pervious roles as Controller of BBC2 and BBC4, and Head of History at Channel 4, she has been hugely influential in popularizing history on television. This is her first book.

”'A masterpiece. Beautifully written, impeccably researched, this heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner” - Amanda Foreman, author of 'Georgiana’

”'Enthralling … 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” - Simon Schama

”'Colourful and brilliantly narrated … excellent both in her narrative skill and her scholarship … Hadlow has produced a perceptive, lively and wonderfully enjoyable book” - Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times

”'Fascinating … in this densely detailed yet fast-paced book, as drama follows drama, the interest never flags … Hadlow is adept at the telling phrase and makes splendid use of the period's vivid letters, diaries and memoirs” - Jenny Uglow, Guardian

”'Engrossing … Hadlow, an accomplished storyteller, assembles a picture full of emotional colour and drama which still resonates today” - Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Times

”'Truly engrossing. George III and his relatives give us the ultimate family saga, and it almost defies belief that these events really happened. A real-life period drama to lose yourself in” - Lucy Worsley

”'Brilliantly lays bare the dysfunctional home life of Geroge III’s family” - Sunday Times

”'Hadlow's achievement is to unite in a single volume an overview of one family's squabbling, thwarted good intentions and petty vindictiveness … in readable prose, with a welter of detail Hadlow succeeds in her considerable task … This is a discursive, leisurely account, enlivened by Hadlow's infectious enthusiasm” - Sunday Telegraph

”'Hadlow’s energetic, richly detailed debut combines personal sympathy for her subjects with a shrewd alertness to wider significances” - Independent on Sunday