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The Madness of George III (Screenplays) Paperback – May, 1995


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About the Author

Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for stage including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-nominated screenplay The Madness of King George), and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. At the National Theatre, London, The History Boys won numerous awards including Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Play, an Olivier for Best New Play and the South Bank Award. On Broadway, The History Boys won five New York Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics' Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics' Award, a New York Drama League Award and six Tonys. The Habit of Art opened at the National in 2009 and People in 2012, together with two short plays, Hymn and Cocktail Sticks. His collection of prose Untold Stories won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography, 2006. Recent works of fiction are The Uncommon Reader and Smut: Two Unseemly Stories.
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Product Details

  • Series: Screenplays
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Filmscript Ed edition (May 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057117616X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571176168
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,106,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Bennett is a renowned playwright and essayist, a succession of whose plays have been staged at the Royal National Theatre and whose screenplay for The Madness of King George was nominated for an Academy Award. He made his first stage appearance with Beyond the Fringe and his latest play was The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith. Episodes from his award-winning Talking Heads series have been shown on PBS. His first novel, The Clothes They Stood Up In, was published in 2000. He lives in London.

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Format: Paperback
Poor old King George III. This is a revised text of Alan Bennett's play, very slightly shortened from the original, and published in 1995. It was, of course, the precursor to the movie, "The Madness of King George", also written by Bennett.

I was reluctant to read this play, as English history can be confusing when one doesn't know much about it, but Alan Bennett - in a crystal-clear Introduction - gives the reader all that he/she needs for understanding.

King George III of England and Ireland developed intermittent "madness" in middle age. It was eventually reasoned that the madness resulted from a disease called porphyria, one of the triggers for which can be large doses of arsenic. During the 20th century it was indeed found (from analysing saved samples of his hair) that the King had absorbed arsenic into his system from a number of sources including a medication meant to help him.

His initial intermittent bouts of illness and madness eventually became a steady state of insanity, and before his death his son, the Prince of Wales, ruled as Prince Regent.

The play is set during and after the first frightening bout of the King's illness. It makes the sad story, and the madness, genuinely funny, but not at all in a denigrating or insulting way. It is tender and hilarious, and also awful in that the medical profession (a whole heap of it) hovers around with dangerous guesses and conflicting loyalties which tend to influence their diagnoses and prognoses. Incorruptible, they are not. In their incompetence they take note of inconsequential symptoms while ignoring the most important ones: His Majesty's blue or purple urine is of no consequence. Their prescribed treatments are hair-raising. Neither reason nor logic play a part in their ministrations.
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5 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
I once read that, in addition to his unfortunate condition of porphyria, the mental effects of which became the basis for this screenplay, King George also had an anal fistula. Perhaps this explains his dyspeptic attitude toward the American colonies, since we were such a pain in the a__, and he already, as a result of the fistula, had plenty of them.
I also learned once that the French King, Louis XIV, used to hold court with his advisors and other notables while receiving his daily enema, thereby making him sort of a public "enema of the people." No wonder the French monarchy had so many problems.
It's amazing how much of history seems to relate to the proctological vagaries of its rulers. In George III's case, because of his unfortunate anal fistula, one could say it perhaps ultimately came down to a problem with the bottom of the man at the top.
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