Benjamin Disraeli

Benjamin Disraeli

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881) was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. He served in government in four decades, twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain. He played a central role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party after the Corn Laws schism of 1846.

Although he was a major figure in the protectionist wing of the Conservative Party after 1844, Disraeli's relations with other major figures in the party, particularly Lord Derby, the party leader, were often strained. From the 1860s, however, Disraeli's relationship with Derby improved and he became Derby's successor as the leader of the Conservatives. Disraeli's career from 1852 onwards was also marked by an intense rivalry with William Ewart Gladstone, who eventually rose to become leader of the Liberal Party. In this feud, Disraeli was aided by his warm friendship with Queen Victoria, who detested Gladstone. In 1876, after nearly forty years in the House of Commons, Disraeli was created Earl of Beaconsfield and moved to the House of Lords.

He was a devout Anglican since his baptism at age 12, though also Britain's only prime minister of Jewish ethnicity. Disraeli was well known as a literary and social figure - however, his novels are not generally regarded as a part of the Victorian literary canon. Disraeli invented the political novel, of which Sybil and Vivian Grey are perhaps the best-known today.

Walsh argues:

"The debate about his place in the Conservative pantheon has continued since his death. Disraeli fascinated and divided contemporary opinion; he was seen by many, including some members of his own party, as an adventurer and a charlatan and by others as a far-sighted and patriotic statesman. As an actor on the political stage he played many roles: Byronic hero, man of letters, social critic, parliamentary virtuoso, squire of Hughenden, royal companion, European statesman. His singular and complex personality has provided historians and biographers with a particularly stiff challenge."

Read more about Benjamin DisraeliEarly Life, Parliament, Judaism, Disraeli's Governments

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Famous quotes by benjamin disraeli:

    That doctrine [of peace at any price] has done more mischief than any I can well recall that have been afloat in this country. It has occasioned more wars than any of the most ruthless conquerors. It has disturbed and nearly destroyed that political equilibrium so necessary to the liberties and the welfare of the world.
    Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881)