As the mistress and probable secret wife of George I, Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg was England's first albeit uncrowned Georgian queen. Her nickname amongst the English, who loathed her and found her scrawny, was 'the Maypole'. Others sources complained she was old; she was hideous; she had appalling dress sense and was bald; she was excessive in her greed; she had no love for George and would have 'sold him to the highest bidder'; she was dim-witted; she was dull; she stood by passively as George pursued younger and more attractive mistresses; she condoned incest, willingly sharing George's affections and his bed with his half-sister, Sophia Charlotte. Yet this seemingly grasping and unattractive woman managed to wrest George from his beautiful and tempestuous wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle, and to bind him to her for almost forty years. In doing so she rose from the ranks of minor courtier to become one of the most powerful women in Europe once George ascended to the English throne in 1714. She happily became the intermediary between George I and his ministers, and she bought and sold the highest offices in the kingdom. Her perceived 'meddling' in politics did little to endear her to Grub Street, and her role in the poisonous wake of George's fallout with his eldest son, as well as her involvement in the catastrophic aftermath of the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, only served to cement her unpopularity. In The King's Mistress: England's First Georgian Queen Claudia Gold brings this extraordinary woman, and the world in which she moved, vividly to life.

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