Benjamin Disraeli
Earl of Beaconsfield


portrait of Benjamin Disraeli

Scenes from an Extraordinary Life



Some key milestones in Disraeli's life

1. Bookish beginnings: 'I was born in a library', 1804-25
2. Adventures at home and abroad ,1824-31
3. Gallery of Affection, Friendship and Association, 1820s-30s
4. New Horizons, 1832-7
5. Mary Anne, Young England, The Trilogy, 1837-45
6. Gallery of Affection, Friendship and Association, 1840s-1850s
7. Tumultuous times, 1846-9
8. Moving on, Moving up, 1849-59
9. Gallery of Affection, Friendship and Association, 1860s-1881
10. First Step, then 'Leap into the Dark', 1859-67
11. Political Gain, Literary Success and Personal Loss, 1868-73
12. The Final Summit, 1874-80
13. The Final Chapter, 1880-1
14. The Final Gallery


This digital version of the Bodleian exhibition (held 4 November 2003-1 May 2004) marks the culmination of a project which began in the late 1990s with the decision taken by the National Trust, the owners of Disraeli's private papers, and the Bodleian Library, the custodians, to commemorate the bicentenary of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-81).

The book Benjamin Disraeli, Scenes from an Extraordinary Life (Bodleian Library, 2003), edited by Helen Langley which accompanied the exhibition included essays written by the Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clark, QC, MP, Dr Angus Hawkins, Annabel Jones, Dr Timothy Mowl, Dr Roland Quinault and Jane Ridley. Images relating to the essays also feature in this digital version (see Items 1, 22, 44, 76, 60, 30, 72).

thumbnail link to cartoon image from Vanity fair

With an award from the Mellon-funded Oxford Digital Library (ODL) the original exhibition has been digitised (with the exception of one or two items) and extended to include letters in their entirety and new items offered for inclusion.

The Library is extremely grateful to the copyright owners of the material featured in the exhibition for without their support it could not have been possible to make the exhibition available as an online historical resource, a long-held objective of the project.

Funding by ODL also brought the opportunity for additional research; Samuel Hyde selected the material, researched and wrote the captions and commentary for amongst others, the new section on Fun (1861-1901), the satirical magazine whose cartoons regularly featured Disraeli.

The translation of the original exhibition into a digital format was primarily the work of Samuel Hyde, the staff of Imaging Services photographic studio and Lawrence Mielniczuk who, with Samuel Hyde, designed the website for the exhibition.

The exhibition is an historical resource for not only undergraduate and graduate researchers, National Trust visitors interested to learn more about Disraeli and his home, Hughenden Manor, or teachers and schoolchildren working on National Curriculum projects but for anyone interested in the life of this extraordinary man and the times in which he lived.

Helen Langley, Curator,
Modern Political Papers.