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William IV (Hardback)

The Last Hanoverian King of Britain

P&S History > British History > Georgian History P&S History > British History > Victorian History P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Royal History

By John Van der Kiste
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 25 mono
ISBN: 9781399098571
Published: 16th September 2022



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Born in 1765, third son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, Prince William, Duke of Clarence, initially had little expectation of succeeding to the British throne. A brief career in the navy, followed by several years of semi-obscurity and a liaison with the actress Dorothea Jordan that gave them a family of ten children, came to an end with the ‘royal race for the crown’, requiring him and several of his other similarly unmarried brothers to find wives and ensure the royal succession after the unexpected death of their only legitimate niece Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent. William’s wife, Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, failed to produce any children who survived infancy, but despite their great difference in ages she succeeded in taming his previously uncouth manners.

By the time he ascended the throne in 1830, the formerly outspoken prince had proved himself fitted to be a conscientious and astute if occasionally eccentric sovereign who successfully weathered the storms engendered by the passage of the Great Reform Bill. Between them, King William and Queen Adelaide helped to restore the popularity of a somewhat tarnished crown and lay the foundations for a modern monarchy under the auspices of their niece who succeeded them as Queen Victoria.

This book portrays the life and character of ‘Good King Billy’, one of Britain’s most endearing sovereigns. An affable character of straightforward honesty and common sense, an occasionally tactless, blundering character with an instinctive dislike of pomp and ceremony but with the common touch, he was arguably the most human, down-to-earth of the Hanoverians.

An insightful biography of a man who initially was not seen as a future king of England. Largely left to himself, he joined the Navy, had an affair with a woman of the theatre (scandalous in its day), and left the machines of government to be run by his father (George III), and later brother (George IV). It was only upon the death of his brother, when he had to suddenly assume the role and lifestyle of a proper king. His rule was short, and largely forgotten. Many remember him simply as the king before Victoria. This book fixes all of that, and puts him center stage in history, and in everyone's memory.

NetGalley, Spencer Wright

About John Van der Kiste

John Van der Kiste has published over ninety books, including historical and royal biographies covering the Stuart, Georgian and Victorian eras in Britain, and the German, Austrian and Russian dynasties, including Queen Victoria’s ChildrenThe RomanovsAlexander II and his familyThe End of the Habsburgs; biographies of Emperors William II and Francis Joseph, and titles on contemporary rock music, including biographies and studies of the work of The Beatles, ELO, Led Zeppelin, and Steve Winwood; and works on local history and true crime. He has reviewed books and records for national, local and independent publications, and contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He lives in Devon and his recreations include reading, music and painting.

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