The Regency was one of the most romantic and most contradictory periods of British history; an era marked by extravagance and superb achievements in the arts, yet which swung between "extremes of elegance and refinement and depths of sodden brutality". It was a time of voluptuaries and raffish aristocrats, waltzes and military parades, Romanticism and Gothic novels, Luddite riots and child labour, the Battle of Waterloo and massacre of Peterloo, pleasure and poverty.
The central figure in this drama is the Prince Regent himself, a "spoilt child" notorious for his vanity, hedonism and self-indulgence. Yet he was also a notable patron for the arts and renowned for being excellent company.
With a novelist's insight, JB Priestley brings this ridiculous but engaging character vividly to life. He also portrays the giants of the Romantic age: Byron and his wild love affairs, literary greats Jane Austen, Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth, artists Turner and Constable, caricaturist Cruikshank and that epitome of dandyism, George "Beau" Brummell.