'Monarchs' series for Penguin Press

'Monarchs' series for Penguin Press

Penguin Press is launching a new series of books about Britain’s kings and queens.

The 45 books in the Penguin Monarchs series will be released in groups of five over the next four years, with the first batch published on 4th December (£10.99 hardbacks).

Penguin has brought together some of the country’s best historians to write the “innovative, provocative histories of Britain’s rulers”, and each book is illustrated by original, newly commissioned portraits of each monarch.

The first five books include John Guy’s Henry VIII: The Quest for Fame, which reveals a king whose terrifyingly complete belief in himself as the perfect exemplar of kingship and religion explains why he transformed the physical and spiritual landscape of England, and George V: The Unexpected King, in which David Cannadine shows how the modern image of the monarchy was forged by George’s conventional homeliness.

Also released on 4th December will be Mark Kishlansky’s portrait of a “misunderstood, talented, thoughtful, loyal, moral, artistically alert man brought to destruction by his enemies and his own actions” in Charles I: An Abbreviated Life.

Stephen Alford’s Edward VI: The Last Boy King looks at the ambitions of the sinister courtiers who tried to direct the child’s reign to their own ends before his early death, while Philip Ziegler’s George VI: The Dutiful King is a portrait of a man who overcame his crippling stammer and his hatred of public appearances to become a figurehead during the Second World War.

As well as the specially commissioned cover portraits, each book will also have colour-banded spines to reflect the chronology of the royal houses.

Jim Stoddart, art director, said: “Our artists look under the bonnet of each monarch and show them as eccentric, interesting individuals rather than just as the focus of leadership. The outcome is that we have a series of impassioned characterisations, which appeal to the modern eye, as well as those already familiar with history.”

The series will be launched on 4th December at an event in London in association with the How To Academy, featuring talks from Alford, Cannadine, Guy and Ziegler, chaired by Helen Castor.