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Guest Post by Laura Purcell
My novel Queen of Bedlam tells the story of Queen Charlotte and her six daughters, who struggled to cope with George III’s increasing madness. But these are only a few of the fascinating women in the Hanoverian dynasty. I have a Georgian series planned to cover the lives of the key women in every reign. Here is a taster of what lies in store.
The women in George I’s love life were equally remarkable. He was married to his first cousin, Sophia Dorothea. Despite Sophia Dorothea’s initial dislike, the pair seemed to rub along well enough for a while, having two children. However, when George took up with mistresses, Sophia Dorothea mistakenly assumed she could do the same. Her lover mysteriously disappeared, and it was rumoured he was killed on the orders of either George of his father. Sophia Dorothea was divorced and put under a kind of house arrest, never to see her children again.
Into the vacant role of consort stepped George’s mistress, Melusine Schulenburg. Daughter of minor aristocrats, Melusine was to be the love of George’s life, although she was vilified by the English. Her court name was “the Maypole”, due to her unfashionable slim figure. Her success at court earned her a reputation for hoarding gold, but in fact Melusine was trying to ensure the security of her three illegitimate daughters.
Fiery and tempestuous by nature, George II needed skilful women to manage his temper. His wife, Caroline of Ansbach, was remarkably successful at her task. It was generally assumed, during Caroline’s lifetime, that it was she ruled England through George. Born in Ansbach, Caroline was orphaned at the age of only thirteen. She became the protégée of her future husband’s aunt, who raised her to be fiercely intelligent. As a consequence, she has been called the cleverest queen consort ever to sit on the English throne.
|Caroline of Ansbach|
|Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha|
George III’s mother was another lost queen of the Hanoverian era. She came to England aged sixteen in order to marry Frederick, eldest son of George II. A shy, awkward girl, Augusta was backwards for her age and spoke no English. However, she succeeded in capturing the heart of her young groom and soon proved herself much smarter than people gave her credit for. Nicknamed “Princess Prudence”, she was one of the few people who managed to get along with both Frederick and his parents. Frederick’s untimely death left Augusta alone as mother to the new heir. Knowing her son was her trump card, Augusta became increasingly political and was a huge influence over George III in his early reign.
The love of George IV’s life was a twice-widowed Catholic lady, Maria Fitzherbert. Though her religion prevented her becoming George’s official wife, she was intensely proud and refused to live as a mistress. Hated by the press and denied by her husband when it suited him, Maria could have turned into a bitter woman. Instead, she led a useful and active life, refusing to let her wayward husband ruin her.
George’s official wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was of a different temper. A lively tom-boy, she resented George’s treatment of her and caused mischief for him whenever she could. His hatred for her climaxed in the famous adultery trial.
George’s daughter, Charlotte, was caught in the middle of her parents. Precocious, wild and loving, she fought against the restraints imposed on her. Charlotte had an unhappy childhood, manipulated by her mother and smothered by her father. However, she was the darling of the English people.
Before he became king, the majority of William’s life was devoted to an actress, Dorothea Jordan, with whom he had a happy home and ten children. But when unexpected deaths occurred in the royal family, William was left in the position of heir with a duty to continue the legitimate line.
Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
Abandoning poor Dorothea, he married Adelaide. Much younger than her husband and very plan in appearance, Adelaide had a hard task ahead of her. However, she managed to capture the heart of her husband and the English people. Her sweet nature and good sense made her an invaluable friend to the last Hanoverian queen, Victoria.
About Queen of Bedlam
Publication Date: June 10, 2014 | Myrmidon Books Ltd | Paperback; 432p
London, 1788. The calm order of Queen Charlotte’s court is shattered by screams. Her beloved husband, England’s King, has gone mad.
Left alone with thirteen children and a country at war, Charlotte must fight to hold her husband’s throne in a time of revolutionary fever. But it is not just the guillotine that Charlotte fears: it is the King himself.
Her six daughters are desperate to escape their palace asylum. Their only chance lies in a good marriage, but no Prince wants the daughter of a madman. They are forced to take love wherever they can find it – with devastating consequences.
The moving true story of George III’s madness and the women whose lives it destroyed.
Buy the BookAmazon UK
About the AuthorLaura Purcell lives in Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England. She met her husband working in Waterstones bookshop and they share their home with several pet guinea pigs.
Laura is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces. She has recently appeared on the PBS documentary The Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace, talking about Queen Caroline's life at Hampton Court.
Laura’s novels explore the lives of royal women during the Georgian era, who have largely been ignored by modern history. Her debut Queen Charlotte was originally self-published as God Save the King, receiving excellent reviews as an Amazon bestseller in biographical fiction.
You can find out more about Laura and read her history blog at www.laurapurcell.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
GiveawayTo win a copy of Queen of Bedlam, please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US & UK residents and ends on June 19. Good luck!
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