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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2010
Print publication year:
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Book description

Benjamin Disraeli remains a commanding figure in the history and ideology of the British Conservative party, and a remarkable example of ascent to high office from outside the traditional elite. This is the first book to bring together specialists in history, literary studies and psychiatry to show how he successfully fashioned his personality in the formative years before his emergence as Conservative leader. The analysis of this process of self-fashioning - the situation to which it responded, the problems of an outsider's integration and advancement in British society, the goals it sought to reach, the techniques which it employed, and the sources on which it drew - offers fresh insight into Disraeli's character and career. Vital aspects of his personality and outlook discussed here include his education, Jewishness, romanticism, orientalism, historical scholarship, and political ideas, and the psychiatric disorder of his mid-twenties, which is examined seriously for the first time.


‘ This is a useful collection of sharply focused essays.’

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

‘This book is profitable reading, not only for students of the nineteenth century, but for anyone interested in the human psyche. Disraeli may be a special case, but I found the book hard to put down.’

Source: History

‘The Self-Fashioning of Disraeli, 1818–1851 … presents an impressively coherent and multifaceted portrait of Disraeli, bringing together the various strands of his early life … Overall, this is a stimulating book, exploring the career of the young Disraeli through fresh theoretical perspectives … Williamson has produced an impressive rehabilitation of Stanley Baldwin, which opens up into a peerless dissection of inter war political culture … it immeasurably enhances our understanding of the period beyond the endless, often sterile, jousting about living standards that previously characterized its historiography.’

Source: The Historical Journal

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