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I have climbed to the top of the Greasy Pole.
Benjamin Disraeli on his career.
"Yes, I am a Jew -- and when the ancestors of the right honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.
Benjamin Disraeli [1]

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG PC FRS was born Benjamin D'Israeli. Despite the fact that he converted to Anglicanism in his teen years, he remains to date Britain's only ethnically-Jewish Prime Minister. He played a key role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party after the Corn Laws schism of 1846. Despite this he was not very well liked by the other major party leaders at the time but he kept working at it and was finally welcomed in fully in the 1860s. He had a life long rivalry with William Gladstone, the later head of the Liberal party and a later Prime Minister. In order to help with this he became a close friend of Queen Victoria (he pushed through legislation that made her the Empress of India, putting her on the top tier of European royalty with Tzar Nicholas II and ensuring that she would not be outranked by her daughter when she married German Emperor Frederick III, or by the Indian nobles who still ran parts of India), which also caused her hatred for Gladstone.

Bizarrely for a Conservative government, from a modern point of view, his second government focused mostly in improving the lot and rights of workers, including giving them the right to picket and to sue their employers for breach of contract. As one of his political opponents put it: "The Conservative party have done more for the working classes in five years than the Liberals have in fifty." This was known as One Nation Conservatism from a phrase of Disraeli's, which basically meant that they should try and transcend differences of class, religion and interests; in practice, they viewed it as they, the upper classes, having a duty to look after the lower classes' welfare, though not neccesarily to work towards full equality. One Nation Conservatism is still considered to be one of the major strains of thought the Conservative Party today (along with Traditionalist "Faith, Flag, and Family"/"Sir Bufton Tufton" types and the Free-Market, quasi-libertarians labeled Thatcherites since the late 1970s), albeit with some changes from Disraeli's time, and were the dominant strain within the party for most of the 20th century (until Thatcher's ministry led to the ascendancy of the free-marketeers).

But perhaps the most awesome thing is not the political career but the career as a successful Romance Novel author that he engaged upon purely to fund his political career. He is very rare as a Prime Minister in that he had both great political and great social acclaim, although his books have not stood the test of time.

Nicknamed "Dizzy".

As a Historical Domain Character, Disraeli is associated with the following works:


  • The 1929 George Arliss film, Disraeli (Arliss won the Best Actor Oscar).
  • The 1941 John Gielgud film, The Prime Minister.
  • The 1950 film The Mudlark in which he was played by Alec Guinness.
  • The 1980 Ian McShane miniseries, Disraeli: Portrait of a Romantic.
  • The 1997 Judi Dench film, Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown (Disraeli is played by Antony Sher).


  • In Tenniel's illustrations to Through the Looking Glass, Disraeli appears both as the Unicorn and as the gentleman dressed in white paper. (Tenniel had made his reputation as a political cartoonist for Punch.)
  • In S.M. Stirling's Alternate History work The Peshawar Lancers, in which the world is hit by comets in 1878 and much of the northern hemisphere becomes uninhabitable, Disraeli is responsible for much of Britain's ruling classes being evacuated to India in a massive operation that sets up the "Angrezi Raj" as the greatest world power in the post-apocalyptic world: in the twenty-first century, when the book is set, he is considered a saint.
  • In the alternate, magical world of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, he was defeated by his political enemy, Gladstone, in a Wizard Duel.
  • A less-than-flattering portrayal of him can be gleaned from Hannah Arendt's book The Origins of Totalitarianism, which highlights how his active "exoticization" of his Jewish background and the Jewish culture in general among many other things made the Jews the Acceptable Targets for Nazism that brought about their tragic fates in The Holocaust (aside from highlighting that NOT all Holocaust victims were Jews). Naturally, many Jews reacted negatively to this reading, even though Arendt herself is Jewish.
  • In Steampunk novel The Difference Engine, Disraeli is a famous author and Lord Byron is PM, in a reversal of their real-life roles.
    • Well, not exactly. Disraeli was a famous author in his time. It's how he made the majority of his money. However, he was more prominently known for his political activities.
  • In To Visit The Queen he is the nuclear proponent to Queen Victoria.


  • He is the namesake of Cream's 1967 album Disraeli Gears.

Western Animation

  • But perhaps the most well-known fictional depiction of Disraeli is the most telling. In the Family Guy episode where the local bar is bought by Brits and converted into a pub, the following exchange/Manatee Gag setup occurs:

Lois: All British men are charming.
Peter: That's what they said about Benjamin Disraeli.
(Scene cuts to the bewigged Disraeli writing with a quill pen in his study. He looks at the camera)
Benjamin Disraeli: You don't even know who I am!

  1. a bit of Cultural Posturing in an open letter in The Times in 1835, addressed to Daniel O'Connell