Nonfiction Book Reviews
Title: Prince of Pleasure - The Prince of Wales and the Making of the Regency
First published 1998 in Britain by Little, Borwn and Company. Reprinted several times; this edition 1999 by Abacus.
The enduring image of George IV is that of 'Prinny', the overweight, overdressed and oversexed buffoon waiting for his periodically deranged father to be declared unfit to rule. This was how he was portrayed in contemporary prints and, more recently, in the TV series Blackadder and the film The Madness of King George. But like many popular images, it ignores the more serious side of his character. Given his predilection for pleasure, it is probably no coincidence that his last achievements were nearly all cultural. The Regency in its widest sense (1800-1830) is remembered today as a devil-may-care period of low morals and high fashion. It was also, thanks to his patronage, a time of great cultural fertility. Probably no monarch in British history has had a more positive influence on so many areas of cultural life: fine art, sculpture, architecture, literature, music and even science.
It's not that often a biography reads as a novel but this excellent biography over the Prince Regent and future king George IV is such a book. There's no stinting on the research, I noticed few factual errors, the references are well documented yet the book isn't heavy going as one might imagine.