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Benjamin Disraeli collection

Call Number: MS P23


This collection, assembled from various sources by Spencer Research Library staff, includes two letters and an autograph by Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British Prime Minister and the Earl of Beaconsfield.


  • 1865, [before 1876], undated


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Benjamin "Dizzy" Disraeli was born in London, England, the son of Isaac D'Israeli, a Jewish-Italian author, and Maria Basevi. Because of a quarrel his father had with the synagogue, Disraeli and his siblings were baptized as Christians in 1817.

Disraeli's early career efforts were disastrous, including losing badly at stock speculation and starting up a newspaper that quickly failed. He wrote a novel about the failed newspaper and his colleagues in that venture (Vivian Grey, published 1826-1827).

In the early 1830s Disraeli toured the Mediterranean and Middle East. He continued writing novels while also pursuing a career in politics. Starting out an independent radical, he attached himself to the Tory party. When Sir Robert Peel, the leader of the Conservative Party, became Prime Minister in 1841, he did not give Disraeli a place in Cabinet, leading to a rift and to Disraeli becoming inspiration for the Young England movement within Toryism. Peel's decision to repeal the Corn Laws during the Irish Famine led to harsh criticism, led by Disraeli, and Peel's resignation in 1846.

In both the 1850s and 1860s the Earl of Derby, head of the Conservative Party, briefly formed minority-led governments, and Disraeli served as Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1868, with Derby's retirement, Disraeli briefly became Prime Minister, resigning later that year when the Liberal Party won the election.

The Conservative party, led by Disraeli, and the Liberal party, led by William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), each led Great Britain during the 1870s. Disraeli was once again Prime Minister in 1874, and during this period he saw the expansion of the British Empire through acquiring Suez Canal shares and introducing a bill to make Queen Victoria the Empress of India. She gave him the titles Earl of Beaconsfield and Viscount Hughenden.

The Conservative party was heavily defeated in the 1880 elections, and Disraeli died the following year.

[Information retrieved from the Encylcopedia Britannica,]


2 folders

Physical Location

MS P23

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Items in folder A: purchase, Walter Benjamin, May 1956. Item in folder B: gift, William P. Albrecht, 1971.

Guide to the Benjamin Disraeli Collection
Benjamin Disraeli collection
Finding aid prepared by alh, 1971. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Benjamin Disraeli collection, MS P23, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States