The extraordinary career of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) forged intersections between political action, visionary leadership, creative achievement, and romantic self-invention. As a best-selling novelist, flamboyant dandy, notable wit, ethnic outsider, and icon of Conservative politics giving rise to a powerful political myth, his multifaceted public persona has become emblematically associated with various aspects of Victorian literary, political, visual, and material culture. Recent Disraeli scholarship has been instrumental in widening the perspective on his life and career, illuminating the cross-fertilisation between his fiction, political and social thought, Jewish background, celebrity status, and psychology. Disraeli’s breadth and versatility as one of the most conspicuous and prominent nineteenth-century public figures, writers, politicians, and thinkers necessitates a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to his life and work. These papers -- which were delivered at a symposium in Oxford on 24 March 2015 -- facilitate a broad discussion of Disraeli’s many parallel (after)lives, representations, and his intellectual legacy within his Victorian contexts and beyond.
Disraeli's 'Venetia': Death of a Poet?
Michael Flavin demonstrates the way in which a critically unexplored novel, 'Venetia', sheds light on Disraeli's political formation. Michael Flavin discusses Venetia (1837), is a transitional novel in Disraeli’s literary and political development. It is transitional because, in playing through an established tension in Disraeli’s literary work between the visionary and the expedient, Venetia, unusually for Disraeli, sides with the expedient more than the visionary. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Working with Hughenden Manor: Solving the Statesman’s Rooms
Oliver Cox (D.Phil, Oxford) and Rob Bandy (manager, Hughenden Manor) discuss the exciting partnership between Oxford University researchers and National Trust properties throughout the country. Oliver Cox (creator of the Thames Valley Country House Partnership) and Rob Bandy (Heritage Manager, Hughenden Manor) explain the developing collaboration between Oxford University and the National Trust at Hughenden Manor. They look at the case study provided by the ‘Congress of Berlin’ room to demonstrate the different ways in which Disraeli can be presented to a variety of audiences. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Rediscovering Disraeli – One Letter at a Time
Michel Pharand, director of The Disraeli Project in Ontario, talks about piecing together Disraeli's story, one letter at a time. Michel Pharand explores the work of The Disraeli Project in Kingston, Ontario. Their work brings Disraeli’s private and public lives into focus: from his struggles with gout and his frustrations with inks, pens and paper, to his handling of contentious issues in the political arena. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Pegasus and Carthorse: The Many Shades of Disraeli’s Celebrity
Sandra Mayer assesses the intersections of literary and political fame in Disraeli’s public image. Sandra Mayer (PhD, University of Vienna) explores Disraeli’s dual public role of celebrated novelist and venerable statesman that crucially shaped his reputation as one of the ‘eminent Victorians,’ and the celebrifying impact of Disraeli’s position as a social, ethnic, and intellectual outsider. All these manifestations of fame dynamically interacted and colluded in the shaping of Disraeli’s public profile and eventually became mutually sustaining. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Scenes from Disraeli’s Extraordinary Life: Curating the Bodleian 2004 Exhibition and Widening Its Reach
An inside look at the 2002 Bodleian Library exhibition about Disraeli's extraordinary life. Former modern political manuscripts curator at the Bodleian Library, Helen Langley revisits the 2002 exhibition on Disraeli's life at the Bodleian. She discusses its relationship to the accompanying book and the expanded online exhibition released in 2005, as well as some of the rewards and challenges of working with the Disraeli collection. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
'A Jew in his heart': The Reception of Disraeli's Judaism
A dynamic exploration of shifts in historical writing about Disraeli's Judaism between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Megan Kearney (D.Phil Candidate, Oxford) offers a few reasons for the historiographical foregrounding of Disraeli’s Jewishness as a race, as opposed to his engagement with Judaism as a religion. It also suggests how we might begin to situate Disraeli on the spectrum of Victorian belief and religious expression. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/