Evoked in the novels of Trollope and Thackeray, and described by cub reporter Charles Dickens, the reign of William IV in Britain is often thought to be little more than the "pre-Victorian" era. Yet the period sparkles with notable characters and is particularly significant as a time of sweeping governmental reform that very nearly tipped into revolution. Indeed, in the hands of Antonia Fraser, the tempestuous two-year period leading up to the passing of the Great Reform Bill in 1832 reads rather like a political thriller.
"As well as providing incisive pen portraits of all the major protagonists ... this superb narrative ... is expressive and elegiac of an age when, despite everything, enlightened rationality informed political discourse.... The 1820s and early 1830s have all too often been seen as a historical backwater between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the start of the Victorian era that began with the queen's accession in 1837. With Fraser's erudite and acute portrait of this age of reform, it won't be thought so anymore."—Telegraph (London)