immortalized on the very walls of Kensington; they stare at all visitors of the palace, judging them from above as they ascend the stairs. Chief Curator of the Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Wolsey, gives voice to some of those very faces in her newest book, The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace. The good people of Walker & Company were kind enough to give me a copy of the book and I was only a few pages in before I was hooked!
Undertaking a nonfiction book on the personalities of key Kensington courtiers from the reigns of George I and II is no small feat. The Courtiers is a testament to Worsley's skill as a curator for she seamlessly combines multiple biographies, court stories, and family trees chronologically into a captivating tapestry of court intrigue. Normally I am used to this sort of information delivered to me in the form of a blog or a hard to follow book, but after years of configuring exhibitions for diverse audiences Worsley has learned a trick or two. The Courtiers begins in George I's court and progresses through to the death of George II. Each chapter is is centered around a court figure or figures and their antics, while at the same time giving a concise history of all the goings-on of Kensington.
But is Kensington court in the early eighteenth century scandalous enough for us? Oh it most certainly is! This is the playground of John Hervey we are speaking of after all. Not only will you find out why King George II wanted his own mistress, Henrietta Howard, fired from court, but also his embarrassing and rather un-kingly demise. What insane measures did Prince Frederick take in order to hide his wife's child labor from his own mother? The answer will leave your jaw gaping!
The Courtiers is a true delight. The scandalous tales are just what we have come to expect from the eighteenth century and Worsley is the perfect tour guide to introduce audiences to them. I will be happily recommending this book to all my history-junky friends; of course I had been doing that before I had even got halfway through the book! The Courtiers is out now in both the UK and US so drop your fans and fetch your coachman to bring you, post-haste, to your local bookshop and pick it up today!