The Great Man, Sir Robert Walpole: Scoundrel, Genius and Britain’s First Prime Minister by Edward Pearce - review by Leslie Mitchell

Leslie Mitchell

Every Man Has His Price

The Great Man, Sir Robert Walpole: Scoundrel, Genius and Britain’s First Prime Minister

By

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To attempt to write a life of Robert Walpole is to climb one of the highest mountains in biography. He dominated English politics for over twenty years, and established a model of government that lasted until 1832 in substance, and beyond that date in spirit. It takes a brave man to undertake the task. Only J H Plumb attempted the summit, and, after two volumes, could not face a third. More recent biographers have preferred to stay in the foothills, and Edward Pearce must be counted among their number.

Quite simply, the amount of material to be gone through is intimidating. The massive correspondence of the Pelham brothers in the British Library would, alone, defeat all but the most determined researcher. Since Walpole was everywhere, his footsteps have to be followed through the complexities of religious controversies, the byways

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