First Iron Lady
Matthew Dennison, Read by Clare Corbett

Book cover image

Narrated By: Clare Corbett

Duration: 12 hours and 17 minutes

What to expect

History has forgotten Caroline of Ansbach and yet in her lifetime she was compared frequently to Elizabeth I and considered by some as ‘the cleverest Queen consort Britain ever had’.

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; she was a regular theatre-goer 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 seventy years, Matthew Dennison seeks to reverse this neglect. The First Iron Lady uncovers the complexities of Caroline’s multifaceted life from 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. It is a remarkable portrait of an 18th-century woman of great political astuteness and ambition, a radical icon of female power.

Genre

Biography: royalty

Listen to a sample

‘A scintillating, thoroughly researched biography’ The Times

'Queen Caroline has been fortunate in attracting a seasoned and perceptive biographer of powerful women… Matthew Dennison's judgements are always nuanced and well contextualized, particularly on the timing and type of her cultural patronage… Dennison undoubtedly succeeds thoroughly in rescuing Caroline from historical limbo' Clarissa Campbell Orr, TLS

‘A brilliant study of a brilliant woman’ Lucy Worsley

'Matthew Dennison's sparkling new biography should do much to bring Caroline out of the shadows to which she has for so long been consigned… Energetic and ambitious, brilliant and divisive, Queen Caroline would have been a remarkable figure in any age. It is fortunate that, in Dennison, she has found a writer able to do justice to her formidable talents’ Country Life

‘Finely judged and entertaining biography’ Spectator

‘Matthew Dennison’s compelling and deftly narrated study of Caroline of Ansbach … Dennison is a talented biographer who can bring alive even the densely populated genealogies of which German princelings were inordinately proud’ Daily Telegraph

‘Illuminating’ Literary Review