Often compared to Catherine the Great or Elizabeth I, Caroline of Ansbach is the great queen Britain forgot it had - a thinker, politician, schemer, patroness and matriarch. This brilliant book offers a remarkable portrait of a woman of great political astuteness and ambition, a radical icon of female power.
The intellectual superior of her buffoonish husband, George II, Caroline is credited with bringing the Enlightenment to Britain through her sponsorship of red-hot debates about science, religion, philosophy and the nature of the universe. Encouraged by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, she championed inoculation; inspired by her friend Leibniz and Samuel Clarke, she mugged up on Newtonian physics; she embraced a salon culture which promoted developments in music, literature and garden design; and she was a regular theatregoer who loved the opera, gambling and dancing. Her intimates marvelled at the breadth of her interests. She was, said Lord Egmont, 'curious in everything'.
Caroline acted as Regent four times whilst her husband returned to Hanover, and during those periods she possessed power over all domestic matters. No subsequent royal woman has exercised power on such a scale. So why has history forgotten this extraordinary queen?
In this magnificent biography, the first for over 70 years, Matthew Dennison seeks to reverse this neglect. The First Iron Lady uncovers the complexities of Caroline's multifaceted life from the child of a minor German princeling who, through intelligence, determination and a dash of sex appeal, rose to occupy one of the great positions of the world - and did so with distinction, élan and a degree of cynical realism.
Praise for Matthew Dennison: "Fascinating...Dennison's clever, searching account of her life shows the incredible flight she had to make herself into the kind of woman she wanted to be." (The Times)
"A natural storyteller. Dennison's impeccable scholarship never weighs down his lively narrative." (The Independent)
"Finely written and dancingly quick." (TLS)
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