Disraeli's Disciple: The Scandalous Life of George Smythe

By Mary S. Millar

© 2006

One of the most intriguing relationships in Victorian history is that between George Smythe (1818-1857), handsome aristocrat and iconoclast, and Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), society novelist, Jewish outsider, and future British prime minister. While Smythe's friendship was central to Disraeli's rise to political power in the 1840s and 1850s, little has been written about Smythe's life beyond a few paragraphs in biographies and histories of the period.

Mary S. Millar redresses this omission with Disraeli's Disciple, the first ever biography of Smythe. Drawing from extensive original research, Millar details the full extent of Smythe's early brilliance as a writer and politician with the Young England splinter group that fostered Disraeli's political rise. Millar's research reveals how heavily Disraeli relied on Smythe and how closely Disraeli's fictional characters were based on him: his looks and idealism in Coningsby (1844), his duplicity in Tancred (1847), and his charm in Endymion (1880). Millar identifies Smythe's incisive journalism for the first time, illustrating his fine grasp of European politics and the venom of his personal attacks. She also documents Smythe's numerous and often disreputable love affairs with remarkable partners: the French countess thirty years his senior, the Anglican priest who wrote him passionate poetry, the circus equestrienne he groomed for marriage to an Earl, and the Scottish heiress he married as he lay dying of tuberculosis.

In addition to the portrait it paints of a fascinating man whose public life was as earnest and idealistic as his private life was shocking and titillating, Disraeli's Disciple also provides new insights into the politics of this formative stage in British history. It is a captivating and enthralling biography that will change the way we view Victorian England.

Continue Reading Read Less

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  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 440 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.3in x 9.3in
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  • PUBLISHED JUN 2006

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    Regular Price: $103.00

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Quick Overview

In addition to the portrait it paints of a fascinating man whose public life was as earnest and idealistic as his private life was shocking and titillating, Disraeli’s Disciple also provides new insights into the politics of this formative stage in British history.

Disraeli's Disciple: The Scandalous Life of George Smythe

By Mary S. Millar

© 2006

One of the most intriguing relationships in Victorian history is that between George Smythe (1818-1857), handsome aristocrat and iconoclast, and Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), society novelist, Jewish outsider, and future British prime minister. While Smythe's friendship was central to Disraeli's rise to political power in the 1840s and 1850s, little has been written about Smythe's life beyond a few paragraphs in biographies and histories of the period.

Mary S. Millar redresses this omission with Disraeli's Disciple, the first ever biography of Smythe. Drawing from extensive original research, Millar details the full extent of Smythe's early brilliance as a writer and politician with the Young England splinter group that fostered Disraeli's political rise. Millar's research reveals how heavily Disraeli relied on Smythe and how closely Disraeli's fictional characters were based on him: his looks and idealism in Coningsby (1844), his duplicity in Tancred (1847), and his charm in Endymion (1880). Millar identifies Smythe's incisive journalism for the first time, illustrating his fine grasp of European politics and the venom of his personal attacks. She also documents Smythe's numerous and often disreputable love affairs with remarkable partners: the French countess thirty years his senior, the Anglican priest who wrote him passionate poetry, the circus equestrienne he groomed for marriage to an Earl, and the Scottish heiress he married as he lay dying of tuberculosis.

In addition to the portrait it paints of a fascinating man whose public life was as earnest and idealistic as his private life was shocking and titillating, Disraeli's Disciple also provides new insights into the politics of this formative stage in British history. It is a captivating and enthralling biography that will change the way we view Victorian England.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 440 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.3in x 9.3in
  • Author Information

    Mary S. Millar is a co-editor with the Disraeli Project and an independent scholar in Kingston, Ontario.

  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Chronology 1818–75

    Abbreviations

    Prologue: The Wild Ass’s Skin

    1. A Splendid Failure?
    2. 1400–1817: The Strangford Inheritance
    3. 1818–26: Cradled in Commotions
    4. 1826–35: George Smythe’s Schooldays
    5. 1836–7: Herstmonceux and Cambridge
    6. 1837–8: Faber
    7. 1838–9: Pearls and Swine
    8. 1840: Lady Tankerville
    9. 1841: Heaven-Born Statesman or Devil-Born Orator
    10. 1841: I Am a Very Zero
    11. 1842: Young England
    12. 1843: Worrying Peel – and Reading Casanova
    13. 1844: Coningsby and Historic Fancies
    14. 1844: The Pursuit of Psyche
    15. 1845: The Double Game
    16. 1846: Falling Upstairs – and Down
    17. 1847: With a Tongue and a Pen of His Own
    18. 1848–9: Very Like Assassination
    19. 1850–2: Diplomatic Moves
    20. 1852: Something about the Duke
    21. 1853–5: The Stage-Box of My Soul
    22. 1856–7: Bed-Ridden Lovelace

    Afterwards

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

    Illustrations follow page

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