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Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III Paperback – April 11, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

King George III of England (1760–1820) and his queen, Charlotte, had 15 children, among them six daughters, on whom Fraser (The Unruly Queen) focuses her family portrait. She depicts royals who attempted to live a rather homey life, but were torn both by the king's famous madness and by complex political and affectionate alliances within the family itself. Fraser has a great source that she uses extensively: the prolific and elegant letters of Charlotte and her daughters. Their correspondence reveals personalities and daily details that attach the reader to their lives. The letters are at times less informative than suggestive; over-reliance on them contributes a wandering quality to the narrative and too many precious tidbits that Fraser apparently couldn't bear to leave out. She also tends to set up situations that take too long to play out, the most significant being the onset of George's madness. The madness, though, is at the center of the women's lives: it not only helped weaken the monarchy further, it wrecked a happy marriage, created rifts out of family tensions and contributed to only three of George's talented daughters marrying, and then too late in life to have children, while two others triggered scandal with their affairs. It's a sad and fascinating story. 24 pages of color illus. Agent, Jonathan Lloyd.(Apr. 8) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Henry VIII had six wives, but George III had as many daughters, and the half-dozen female offspring of that long-reigning and ever-productive king (who also fathered nine sons) are the collective subject of this greatly involving biography by the author of The Unruly Queen (1996), a well-respected chronicle of George III's daughter-in-law, Queen Caroline. The reader may find it difficult at first to keep straight all the princesses, their names, their individual personalities, and their place in the lineup of siblings but soon will comfortably ease into Fraser's expansive, leisurely, but certainly not dawdling narrative, which opens into a rich tapestry of sheltered lives and parental restrictions. Fraser, in her immaculately professional manner, gives ample evidence of how the king's possessiveness toward his daughters, as well as the effect of his disastrous physical and mental breakdown on not only the country but also the royal household, channeled each of the six princesses into "subversive behavior and even acts of desperation." Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400096693
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400096695
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Flora Fraser is the next generation in the fine biographical/historical tradition of her mother Lady Antonia Fraser and her late grandmother Elizabeth (Countess of) Longford. Like her forebears, Fraser combines scholarship with an elegant and witty writing style to produce books which illuminate and engage.

King George III's six daughters tend to get short shrift from historians and biographers who focus on their father, their brothers, and their niece Queen Victoria. The prevailing picture of them is of six mousy women pushed into the background. Fraser has pulled Charlotte, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia, and Amelia out of the shadows and let us see that they had strong personalities and lives of their own.

The six princesses were victims of circumstance even more than most eighteenth century royal women. Ordinarily they would have been married off to men they scarcely knew almost as soon as they reached puberty in order to strengthen Britain's alliances. George III, however, had been horrified by the ill treatment two of his own sisters received at the hands of unloving husbands, and he was determined that his own daughters would not suffer such a fate. Unfortunately his paternal affections did not extend to allowing his daughters to marry Englishmen they loved, and only meant that he turned down overtures from many foreign princes, usually without consulting his daughters at all. Furthermore, as the princesses reached marriageable age the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars meant many possible suitors were now the enemies of Britain and thus out of bounds.
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Format: Hardcover
Known popularly as the Nunnery, the 6 daughters of George III led sheltered and almost monastic lives. Shut up in a stultifying court, with little chance of escape too often their lives, and their plight, have been overlooked - or speculated on to the detriment of what is known, or can be proven.

There have been a few recent attempts to try to rectify this, usually within biographies of either their father or their brothers. Dorothy Stuart's biography has been the best atetmpt so far (in my opinion) but Fraser's account exceeds this in many ways. Whether she had access to better information, or simply resisted over-speculating, this account is definitely a cut above the rest.

George III and his wife had 6 daughters and 6 sons. And the difference in the lives is astonishing. While the sons, almost to a man, went out and lived profligate lives, wasting the privy purse and shacking up with actresses. The daughters were kept under strict purdah only allowed to participate in court life. Although at times they begged for marriage their prospects were limited. There was little chance generally for them to be married at a time when Britain was almost entirely cut off from the continent thanks to conflict withfrench and later napoleon. But also because G III had seen his own sisters suffer in unhappy marriages.

It may seem a dull subject for a biograpy...yet many contributing factors make this well worth reading. The lives of teh daughters were dictated to by the impending madness of their father (a fate you wonder might not have been visited on at least one or two of the brothers as well). The strange life at court which is an alien world with its formality etc to us now.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps best known in the United States as being the British king who wanted the colonies to pay for military protection with things like the tax on tea, George III was King of England from 1760 until 1820. He fathered fifteen children, six of whom were daughters, this is their story.

The King's growing madness is heavily emphasized in this story. And this is fitting because this was a growing part of the lives of the children. Ms. Fraser did a remarkable job with this book. It is based on the extensive letters between Queen Charlotte and the six girls. It is not a typical biography talking of the major events of King George's rule, it is the personal story of this group of women trying to live a semi-normal life amidst life at the court.

It is a fascinating book that looks at a time far removed from ours.
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Format: Hardcover
After THE UNRULY QUEEN I was already an admirer of this author but now I am in awe of her. Knowing the mountain of original sources Fraser used I find her selections, editing and writing of the overall narrative simply wonderful. It is a very complicated landscape The Princesses lived in and yet the author has succeeded in not only turning up the volume on each Princess as an individual, but portrays the dynamics of that huge family within one of the most turbulent periods of modern history. Also, explanations of the manners and mores of the times are seamlessly interwoven, which in turn nicely contrasts public propriety with the daily private reality. I have a large George III library and this is a valuable addition to it.
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