The Forgotten Prime Minister: The 14th Earl of Derby, Vol Two – Achievement, 1851–1869 by Angus Hawkins - review by Leslie Mitchell

Leslie Mitchell

In the House & At the Turf

The Forgotten Prime Minister: The 14th Earl of Derby, Vol Two – Achievement, 1851–1869

By

Oxford University Press 552pp £35 order from our bookshop
 

Volume One of Angus Hawkins’s magisterial biography of the 14th Earl of Derby ended just as his subject was about to become Prime Minister. Volume Two traces the events of the next eighteen years, in which Derby would hold the highest political office three times. On each occasion he would lead minority administrations. On each occasion, his survival depended on Whigs, Liberals, Radicals, Irish and Peelites disliking one another more than they suspected him. He would never know the comforting cushion of a large majority.

On top of this, his party’s only man of ability in the House of Commons was Benjamin Disraeli, who, as the world well knew, had debauched Derby’s younger brother and malevolently influenced his son. Ambitious for more than his origins could possibly allow, Disraeli was so unencumbered by principle that

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter