Once barely noticed, the history of the anti-slavery campaign has gathered such momentum that it has now become the central narrative of Our Island Story. The hero of this tale is William Wilberforce, and a new biography is overdue. Wilberforce’s struggle to ban slavery has been dramatised in the biopic Amazing Grace. Now, nicely timed for the bicentenary year, William Hague has written his life.
The story of William Wilberforce (1759–1833) is an extraordinary one. The heir to a Hull merchant’s fortune, he became an MP at the age of twenty-one, was best mates with the younger Pitt and a rich young man about town until the age of twenty-six, when he underwent a classic