George IV, by Michael De-la-Noy, Published by Sutton Publishing Limited, 260 FifthAvenue, New York, NY 10001, 800-758-3756, $9.95, paperback, 1998.
Sutton Publishing has released several titles in a set titled “Pocket Biographies.” Among these, George IV by Michael De-la-Noy proves itself to be an easy and enjoyable read. For those who know little about British history, the book gives a short, comprehensive introduction to the life and times of George IV. Informative without being dry, De-la-Noy begins with George IV’s birth, describing the circumstances surrounding his childhood with his strict father King George III, his less than affectionate mother, and his 15 siblings–the favourite of these being his brother Frederick, Duke of York. However, unlike his brother, George IV had “a propensity to fall out with almost anybody.” The Prince of Wales spent most of his life permanently in debt and out of favour with his father, becoming a compulsive gambler, a drinker, and a ladies’ man. He continued his rebellion by siding against his father politically.
Granted the estate known as Carlton House early in his life, George did not see it as fit for a prince and set about turning it into a palace. However, Carlton House was only the first in a line of grandiose architectual projects George undertook, none of which he could afford. As he began renovations of Carlton House, he soon found himself buried in debt, much to the dismay of his father, who many times petitioned Parliament to cover the expenses of his self-indulgent son.
In addition to his rich architectural tastes, the Prince of Wales also developed an obsession for women early in life. His many mistresses were seen as his way of compensating for the lack of maternal affection he received as a young boy. However, the prince was prone to fall out of love as quickly as he fell into it, resulting in a few false marriage proposals and one illegal and invalid marriage (as deemed by the Royal Marriages Act) to a rich widow. Eventually, with the approval of his father, the Prince of Wales married his cousin Caroline of Brunswick. His disasterous marriage to Caroline resulted in the birth of a daughter, Charlotte. Even this, however, did not cause him to give up his first “wife,” nor to hinder his endless pursuit of further mistresses. As king, George continued to lead an excessive and indulgent lifestyle in all respects: food, alcohol, women, and money. These ultimately led to his melodramatic death on 26th June, 1830.
De-la-Noy’s recount of the life and history of George IV is both interesting and informative. It is a good choice if you do not want to have to wade through hundreds of pages of historical facts. De-la-Noy’s descriptions give a lighthearted, yet historically accurate, account of the life and character of George IV.