Janice Hadlow was born in London and studied history at university. After a few years working for the House of Commons, she joined the BBC and became a television producer. There, and later at Channel Four, she played an important role in popularising history on tv, making a number of highly regarded series, including Simon Schama’s History of Britain .She went on to run two of the BBC’s major television channels, becoming Controller of BBC FOUR in 2004, and Controller of BBC TWO in 2008. On BBC FOUR, she was responsible for many highly successful single dramas, such as Fantabulosa and The Long Road to Finchley. At TWO, she commissioned hits across a wide range of genres, from Great British Bake Off to the dramas Wolf Hall and Line of Duty. She was the recipient of a number of awards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society, as well as of King’s College, University of London. She left the BBC in 2016 and is now a writer. Her first book,The Strangest Family, told the story of the troubled relationship between George III and his wife and children. Widely reviewed, it was described as “enthralling”, “a revelation”, and “full of emotional colour and drama.” She has just finished her first novel, The Other Bennet Sister, which imagines the story of Pride and Prejudice as seen from the point of view of Mary, the plainest and least regarded of the sisterhood.
THE STRANGEST FAMILY
George III came to the throne in 1760 as a man with a mission. He wanted to be a new kind of king, one whose power was rooted in the affection and approval of his people. And he was determined to revolutionise his private life too – to show that a better man would, inevitably, make a better ruler. Above all he was determined to break with the extraordinarily dysfunctional home lives of his Hanoverian forbears. For his family, things would be different.
And for a long time it seemed as if, against all the odds, his great family experiment was succeeding. His wife, Queen Charlotte, shared his sense of moral purpose, and together they did everything they could to raise their tribe of 13 young sons and daughters in a climate of loving attention. But as the children grew older, and their wishes and desires developed away from those of their father, it became harder to maintain the illusion of domestic harmony. The king’s episodes of madness, in which he frequently expressed his repulsion for the queen, undermined the bedrock of their marriage; his disapproving distance from the bored and purposeless princes alienated them; and his determination to keep the princesses at home, protected from the potential horrors of the continental marriage market, left them lonely, bitter and resentful at their loveless, single state.
At one level, ‘The Strangest Family’ is the story of how the best intentions can produce unhappy consequences. But the lives of the women in George’s life – and of the princesses in particular – were shaped by a kind of undaunted emotional resilience that most modern women will recognise. However flawed George’s great family experiment may have been, in the value the princesses placed on the ideals of domestic happiness, they were truly their father’s daughters.
PUBLICATION DATE: 28th August 2014