Item Details

Price: $1,500
PJP Catalog: 63.151


(London: John Murray, 1910-20). 216 x 140 mm (8 1/2 x 5 1/2"). Six volumes.. FIRST EDITION.

EXTREMELY APPEALING CONTEMPORARY DARK BLUE THREE-QUARTER MOROCCO, GILT, raised bands, spines attractively gilt in double-ruled compartments with intricate arabesque cornerpieces, marbled sides and endpapers, top edges gilt. With 56 portraits, six political cartoons, and nine illustrations of important places in the life of Disraeli. Trivial soiling to two paper sides, leaves slightly browned at edges because of inexpensive paper, one leaf with minor printing imperfection, but AN ESPECIALLY PLEASING SET, THE DECORATIVE BINDINGS VERY LUSTROUS AND WITH VIRTUALLY NO WEAR, and the text quite clean and fresh.

British prime minister, statesman, and father of the modern Conservative party, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) was a towering figure in 19th century Britain whose influence is difficult to overstate. Our authors had the advantage of free access to his papers and correspondence, and have carefully documented and analyzed his public life and political theories in the six substantial volumes that make up this work. Our set is given special mention by DNB, which states that "the interpretation of [Disraeli] as a man of the people, who had the insight to appreciate the merits of a policy of imperial consolidation and social reform, became widely held by Conservatives in the 1890s. It was underpinned by the conclusion to the six-volume biography of him begun by W. F. Monypenny and finished after Monypenny's death by G. E. Buckle in 1920. (However, buried in the rest of the work is a great deal of material about other aspects of Disraeli's ideas. It remains the only biography to treat those ideas with anything like the importance they deserve, in a conscious effort to answer Liberal and other criticisms of his lack of convictions.)" The prime minister's private life, however, "was sanitized by Monypenny and Buckle (in whose biography there is not even any coherent reference to [his reputed mistress] Henrietta Sykes)." The present set's appearance is little changed from its original condition, and it would make a handsome addition to any library. Because the work was issued over an 11-year period, there are more incomplete than complete sets in the marketplace, and there appears to be no six-volume set of the first editions currently being offered in decorative bindings, let alone any as attractive and well preserved as ours (ABPC lists one comparable set since 1975).