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  • Published: 18 July 2023
  • ISBN: 9780141991467
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 784
  • RRP: $36.99

George III

The Life and Reign of Britain's Most Misunderstood Monarch

Winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography - Andrew Roberts overturns received wisdom on Britain's longest-reigning king

Andrew Roberts's magnificent new biography 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.

In presenting this fresh view of Britain's most misunderstood monarch, George III shows one of Britain's premier historians at his sparkling best.

  • Published: 18 July 2023
  • ISBN: 9780141991467
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 784
  • RRP: $36.99

About the author

Andrew Roberts

Andrew Roberts is the bestselling author of The Storm of War, Masters and CommandersNapoleon and Wellington, and Waterloo. A Fellow of the Napoleonic Institute, he has won many prizes, including the Wolfson History Prize and the British Army Military Book Award, writes frequently for The Wall Street Journal, and has written and presented a number of popular documentaries. He lives in New York City.

Also by Andrew Roberts

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Praise for George III

a deeply textured portrait of George III [and] a capacious, prodigiously researched biography from a top-shelf historian.


meticulously researched ... an eye-opening portrait of the man and his times

Publishers Weekly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this mammoth and meticulous biography, Andrew Roberts presents a compelling case for the defence of George III.

Book of the Week, The Week

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

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

Andrew Roberts makes a strong revisionist case for the generally maligned George III in this engrossing, brilliant biography

Andrew Adonis, Prospect Magazine

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

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

This outstanding new biography of George III is timely. The first of the Hanoverians to identify as British was mocked, slandered and vilified during his lifetime and is still regularly cited in the American media as the epitome of tyranny. Over the past two centuries historians have dismissed him as incompetent and despotic. Andrew Roberts has no time for such ill-founded nonsense. ... George has found a true champion in Andrew Roberts, who has ridden up gallantly to challenge unfounded prejudice. ... This impressively researched and scholarly account of the King's life and travails is compulsively readable and, in its tragic end, deeply moving. It is full of fascinating detail, insightful vignettes and vivid local colour.

Adam Zamoyski, The Critic

Deeply researched, it ranges with equal authority from his private life to the military history of the American War of Independence; its tenacious fairness towards its subject gives it the sort of polemical edge that one finds in revisionist history at its best.

Noel Malcolm, TLS Books of the Year

This hefty book - elegantly written, the fruit of extensive research - is the case for the defence of Britain's "most misunderstood monarch".

Robbie Millen, The Times Book of the Year

The book which impressed me most, and which I most enjoyed, this year is Andrew Roberts's George III. It is based on such astonishingly wide-ranging and original research that I felt I was reading about the period for the first time. Unknown facts and wonderful anecdotes had me turning the pages with a curiosity I seldom feel when reading about supposedly familiar events. Andrew Roberts is remarkably even-handed, and there is no special pleading on behalf of this genuinely misunderstood and wilfully misrepresented monarch who did his best to be a good constitutional ruler during a very choppy period in British history.

Adam Zamoyski, Aspects of History Books of the Year

an outstanding and surprisingly moving portrait of a misunderstood king, distinguished by refreshing revisionism but also illuminated by deep humanity.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Spectator World Books of the Year

No other writer, except possibly Alan Bennett, has set out to make us love King George more. Or admire him more ... What makes Roberts's massive biographies so distinctively rewarding is that he provides the reader with enough evidence to undermine his own conclusions.

Ferdinand Mount, London Review of Books

Roberts is in a rich vein of form at present; after bestselling books on Napoleon and Churchill, yet another masterpiece has tumbled from his pen.

Dan Jones, The Good Web Guide

Roberts has been justly acclaimed as one of his generation's leading historians ... His new biography seeks to challenge popular myths about the monarch. ... Roberts, employing the same flair for original research and ability to convey historical context and vivid prose that he used in previous books ... thoroughly debunks all the assumptions most people have about the king.

Jonathan Tobin, Washington Examiner

exhaustively researched and written in accessible, non-jargony prose. Meticulous and forensic, it sometimes reads like a defense counsel's case for his client ... Roberts's defense of George III, though, is the fullest, the clearest, and likely to be the most definitive.

Robert G. Ingram, National Review

Roberts has painted a masterful portrait of a patriotic, diligent and cultivated monarch. ... This new biography is a treasure-house of detail. ... George III is an engaging, humane and at times beautiful testament to the importance of giving our ancestors a fair hearing.

Harrison Pitt, European Conservative