DISRAELI BENJAMIN DISRAELI, 1ST EARL OF BEACONSFIELD (British) (1804 – 1881)
Statesman and novelist, twice British Prime Minister (1868, 1874-’80) he was one of the most extraordinary figures to reach the pinnacle of British politics. He was of Italian Jewish descent, born on December 21, 1804 in London. Son of a bookish and scholarly man whose ‘Curiosities of Literature’ had attracted some notices in his time. As a result of his father’s quarrel with the synagogue, he was baptised as a christian(1817) but for which curious accident his career would not have taken the form as it did. After some failures in his pursuit of political opportunity he was returned to parliament (1837) as a Conservative Member for Maidstone in Kent. In 1848 he acquired a claim to the leadership of the opposition in the House of Commons after being elected to parliament as member for the county of Buckinghamshire in 1847. He served as a Chancellor of Exchequer for a period in 1852 and again in 1858 and 1865. He was responsible for the Reform Bill which gave household suffrage in the boroughs and extended the county franchise. Disraeli became Prime Minister in 1868, but when the autumn elections was won by the Liberals he resigned. Gladstone, his political rival succeeded him. His second period as Prime Minister was 1874-1880. It was during his second term that he gave a full scope for his concept of empire. Fiji was annexed in 1874. He bought Britain a major share in the Suez Canal, in 1875 and the next year he proclaimed Queen Victoria, the Empress of India,(‘India the greatest jewel in the Imperial diadem’); Transvaal was annexed in 1877 and annexed Cyprus. Britain penetrated into Zululand and Afghanistan in 1879. Gladstone accused Disraeli ‘of suffering a misguided ambition for territorial aggrandisement’ He established the Conservative Party as a political force upholding monarchy, the Anglican Church and the Empire. In 1876 he accepted a peerage taking the title of Earl of Beaconsfield. Disraeli was the author of several novels (mainly political and satire).
for anecdotes check out my earlier posts.b