George III reigned for sixty years, from 1760 to 1820. The Government was his - he sacked five Prime Ministers; interfered endlessly; and was in part responsible for the loss of thirteen American colonies. The Whig leader, Charles James Fox, called him 'Satan'. Yet after the French Revolution George became a much-loved figure; a bastion against anarchy, terror and mob-rule; the father figure of the nation, who stood up to Napoleon. Never was ‘God Save the King’ sung with such fervour.
The debate continues with Prince Charles and the pro-George lobby. This book presents all of George's complex character: as 'Farmer George' carrying pails around his farms and selling milk to eke out his finances; as a father let down by his sons, who became debauched womanisers, gamblers and spendthrifts, while his daughters became old maids because their mother refused to let them marry whom they wanted; as a cultural patron, founder of the Royal Academy of Arts; and as a sick man, suffering from recurrent attacks of madness.
George ruled through the golden age of English caricature. He suffered at the hands of the genius of Gillray; the robustness of Rowlandson; and the skilful darts of Isaac Cruikshank. And there were others: the brilliant young artist, Richard Newton, who died from jail fever aged only twenty-one; and the vulgarian William Dent, who loved bare bottoms and farting. Caricaturists were the paparazzi of the day, capturing the celebrities - the King and Queen and the politicians. Here we can see George III as his contemporaries saw him.
Kenneth Baker draws upon his own experience of high politics, as well as his personal collection of caricatures. He sets George's reign in the context of the dramatic international events: the American War of Independence; the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars; and he places all the big politicians of the time - Wilkes, Fox, William Pitt and Edmund Burke. Many of these amusing and irreverent images have not been published before and provide new insight into the story of one of the nation's most well known but least understood monarchs.