Deservedly one of the outstanding biographers of our time, Hesketh Pearson turns in this book to perhaps the most fascinating, perplexing and dramatic figure of the Victorian age—a man who was equally famous as statesman, author and wit.
Disraeli began political life with everything against him—his race, his disturbing wit, his love of pageantry and deliberately extravagant appearance, his passionate devotion to the traditions of aristocracy, coupled with a romantic temperament alien to the sober, middle-class atmosphere of his age. But through genius and undeviating self-confidence he lived to become an object of national reverence and affection in spite of ridicule from opponents and constituents alike.
Pearson has penetrated the glittering parliamentary façade to give us the man himself. Side by side with that famous, sphinx-like figure who could hold the House of Commons spellbound during a three-hour speech, who brought England to the historic peak of her power, we have the character who danced a jig with his wife in their bedroom, wrote her daily notes, was inconsolable at her death, and eventually emerged from self-imposed isolation to fall in love at seventy with another man’s wife.
Pearson uses his gift for quoting effectively and gives excerpts from letters, diaries, epigrammatic remarks and speeches so that the reader has the sense of having overheard actual conversations. He also comments with frankness upon Disraeli’s novels, which are interesting not only for their portraits of his contemporaries but their unconscious revelation of his character.
Written with a wit and perception worthy of its subject, this is a brilliant recreation of the man whose personality was his genius.
Richly illustrated throughout with 22 illustrations.