[George III, King of England, writes on the eve of his first bout of insanity.] Disordered Autograph Letter Signed ('G. R'), in the third person, giving agricultural directions to 'Robinson', i.e. his shepherd at Windsor Ralph Robinson.

George III (1738-1820), King of England [Ralph Robinson, the king's shepherd at Windsor]
Publication details: 
'Cheltenham July 17th. 1788'
SKU: 21480

The recipient, Ralph Robinson, was George III's shepherd at Windsor, and the king (whose interest in agriculture earned him the nickname 'Farmer George') published contributions to the Annals of Agriculture under Robinson's name. 1p, 4to. Aged, soiled and worn in the folds, the wear taking in part of the royal signature. Archivally repaired, and with thin strip of paper from mount adhering to the blank reverse. An unusual letter, showing the king's meticulous attention to detail. The letter is said, in the Maggs Bros catalogue entry referred to at the end of this description, to have been written 'while George III was staying at Lord Fauconberg's house, Bays Hill Lodge, and shortly before his second attack of insanity'. The handwriting is certainly untidy and disordered, with the postscript written over the king's signature. Reads: 'The King is desirous of hearing from Robinson whether any amount has been received of the four Yorkshire Cows, also whether the Horses are continuing to bring gravel out of the intended Flower Garden, or bringing rubbish out of the Road. The other Men should as soon as possible be employed in digging the new Road for one of the Divisions lately taken off near the Meddow where the Hay has been made. The Ditches and the Pond near the Cow Yard should as last year be cleared. | G. R | Robinson should send the sketch of a monthly Account of the Men, that if approved of He may have it ready at the end of the four Weeks.' Accompanied by a Typed Letter Signed from John Wilson of the booksellers Maggs Bros. Ltd of Berkeley Square to Hunter, dated 26 October 1965. Wilson states that after the issuing of the firm's autograph catalogue 'we received an order for the George III letter (N. 104) from the Royal Library at Windsor. Being disappointed that the letter was already sold they asked whether the owner would consent to having a photograph made of it for their archives, and I agreed to ask you (though it was not revealed who exactly the mysterious purchaser had been).' Wilson's letter is accompanied by a cutting of the catalogue entry for the letter. From the distinguished autograph collection of the psychiatrist Richard Alfred Hunter (1923-1981), whose collection of 7000 works relating to psychiatry is now in Cambridge University Library. Hunter and his mother Ida Macalpine had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.