From beloved historian Antonia Fraser comes the dramatic story of how Catholics in Britain won back their rights after two hundred years of official discrimination.
'Utterly gripping and consistently witty' Damian Thompson, Literary Review
'An absolutely splendid book' A. N. Wilson, The Spectator
The story of Catholic Emancipation begins with the violent Anti-Catholic Gordon Riots in 1780, fuelled by the reduction in Penal Laws against the Roman Catholics harking back to the sixteenth century. Some fifty years later, the passing of the Emancipation Bill was hailed as a 'bloodless revolution'.
Had the Irish Catholics been a 'millstone', as described by an English aristocrat, or were they the prime movers? While the English Catholic aristocracy and the Irish peasants and merchants approached the Catholic Question in very different ways, they manifestly shared the same objective.
Antonia Fraser brings colour and humour to the vivid drama with its huge cast of characters: George III, who opposed Emancipation on the basis of the Coronation Oath; his son, the indulgent Prince of Wales, who was enamoured with the Catholic Maria Fitzherbert before the voluptuous Lady Conyngham; Wellington and the 'born Tory' Peel vying for leadership; 'roaring' Lord Winchilsea; the heroic Daniel O'Connell. Expertly written and deftly argued, The King and Catholics is also a distant mirror of our times, reflecting the political issues arising from religious intolerance.
Fraser knows better than anybody how to make political and religious history fun. And as the mob besieges the Palace of Westminster, red-faced politicians rant and rave and George IV tucks in to yet another banquet, her tale flows with such elegance and enthusiasm that you barely stop to notice just how skilfully she does it. - SUNDAY TIMES
Fraser succeeds triumphantly in bringing to life the struggle for Catholic rights. A superb narrative historian, like a modern-day Macaulay, she enlivens her story with vivid character sketches, verve and wit. This is a marvellous book. - THE TABLET
Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works which have been international bestsellers. She was awarded the Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000 and was made a DBE in 2011 for services to literature.
Her previous books include MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, KING CHARLES II, THE WEAKER VESSEL: WOMAN'S LOT IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND which won the Wolfson History Prize, MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY, PERILOUS QUESTION; THE DRAMA OF THE GREAT REFORM BILL 1832 and THE KING AND THE CATHOLICS: THE FIGHT FOR RIGHTS 1829. MUST YOU GO?,a memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, was published in 2010, and MY HISTORY; A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP in 2015. She lives in London.
Visit Antonia Fraser's website at www.antoniafraser.com