Lecture: Disraeli and the historians

at Marlborough Road Methodist Church, AL1 3XG

Disraeli once began a pamphlet with the question: Who is He?  After pondering whether he was a Whig or a Tory, no clear resolution emerged.  No wonder contemporaries were perplexed by Disraeli, and historians have continued to disagree over his ideas and significance ever since.  Even among the gallery of nineteenth century politicians, Disraeli – novelist, wit, dandy, friend of Queen Victoria, imperialist and Jew – stands out as a remarkable personality.  In this illustrated lecture, Dr St John surveys the leading historical interpretations of Disraeli’s long political career, giving particular attention to the role of ideas in Disraeli’s politics and his motives for passing the Second Reform Act of 1867.

Ian St John studied for a BA at the University of York and a D.Phil at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he worked with Sir David Butler on the Nuffield Election Studies.  Since 2000 he has taught History and Economics at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, Elstree, where he is director of the School’s Outreach Programme.  He has published several books, including (with Martin Westlake) Neil Kinnock: The Biography; Disraeli and the Art of Victorian Politics; Gladstone and the Logic of Victorian Politics; The Historiography of Gladstone and Disraeli; The Making of the Raj; and The Makers of Modern Economic Thought.  He is currently writing a book on nineteenth century Oxford.

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