I recently started reading The Last King of America by Andrew Roberts. It is an extensively detailed biography of King George III. I’m about fifty pages into as I write this blog post. So far it has been an enjoyable read although not one that I would deem a “quick read” or “light reading.”
I am not one to skip the author’s notes, introduction, or acknowledgements and jump straight into the first chapter of a book. I like to know a bit of the author’s background and, in the case of books like The Last King of America, I like to see who or what the author consulted in writing the book. It was in reading the acknowledgements that I learned about the online Georgian Papers Programme.
Roberts used many of the papers in the Georgian Papers Programme in his research for writing The Last King of America. He doesn’t say, but I assume he used physical as well as digital copies of papers in the collection. Not all papers in the Georgian Papers Programme are available online, but there are more than 200,000 that are accessible online.
You could simply browse through the collections that are available online and start reading things that seem like they might be interesting. You can search through the collection for something specific. Here are some directions on how to search the catalog. But to get a good sense of what is in the Georgian Papers Programme and how researchers have used them, take a look at the virtual exhibitions of the Georgian Papers Programme.
The Madness of King George Explored is a set of papers that Mark Gatiss viewed in preparation for his role in the Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company’s production of The Madness of King George. The exhibit features the papers along with commentary to explain the context in which they were written and the significance of those who wrote the papers and who were mentioned in them. Reading through the exhibit was a bit of a crash course in how mental illness was viewed and treated in the late 18th Century. Reading the commentary also provided a bit of a refresher on the lineage of the royal family.
The Essays of George III is a collection created by Jennifer Buckley. The collection of thirteen essays selected from 8,500 documents. The essays in this collection are focused on the education of King George III and essays that he wrote on a range of subjects from economics to the arts. For someone who is not an expert on the history of the Royal Family, the commentary is as valuable as the primary sources themselves.