Have you been watching Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netflix this week? If you have, and fancy some more reading about the period, I have the recommendsday post for you. The tie-in book for the series came out yesterday
Let’s start with the history bit – the Queen Charlotte they’re talking about is the wife of George III, aka the one who went mad, prompting the Regency, beloved of historical romance novelists for around a century now. She was born in 1744 and married George III a year after he became King. They were married for 57 years, until her death in 1818, two years before he died.
On the non-fiction front, Lucy Worsley’s Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court will give you a window into the actual life of the court at Kensington Palace in the first reigns of the first two Georges – which finishes ever so slightly before Charlotte arrived in England, but it absolutely sets the scene for what happened next and paints a vivid picture of all the rivalries that simmered under the surface – or not so under the surface. If we’re looking at wider aristocratic society at the time, it’s along time since I read it, but Stella Tillyard’s Aristocrats looks at the lives of the Lennox sisters (who were descended from another one of Charles II’s illegitimate children in a nice throwback to my Coronation post the other day!) who were in and around the court during the reign of George III. Another of the big aristocratic figures of the era is Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (who in another throwback to the Coronation post was a Spencer) who was a socialite and political organiser with an unhappy marriage.
Meanwhile back to the royals themselves, George and Charlotte had 15 children, of whom thirteen survived into adulthood. Included in the children were George IV (the prince regent) and William IV, of whom there are a lot of biographies, but less has been written about the others. In Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III by Flora Fraser you can learn about the lives of the Charlotte, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia and Amelia but also about their parents and life at court. If you want to go a little bit later, Fraser also wrote a very good biography of Caroline of Brunswick, wife of the Prince Regent, who had a very tumultuous life to say the least.
Moving over to fiction and Laurie Graham’s A Humble Companion ties in neatly with the Flora Fraser – as Nellie is a companion to Princess Sophia. You follow their friendship from childhood from George III’s era all the way through to the early Victorian period. And of course, as mentioned earlier, the Regency part of George III’s reign has been popular with historical romance authors since Georgette Heyer started writing about it. But Heyer actually started writing her historical romances in the earlier period and these include some of my favourites – we’re talking The Maskeraders, These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub. Aside from those, The Desperate Duchesses series is set in the Georgian period (rather than the Regency) and so is Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, which I’ve only read a couple of but I know they have a lot of fans the romance groups that I hang out in.
And finally I’m going to issue another warning at this point – don’t go expecting Queen Charlotte to figure in the Bridgerton book series the way she does in the streaming series.
Happy Wednesday everyone.