A History of British Prime Ministers : Two Volume Set book cover
1st Edition

A History of British Prime Ministers
Two Volume Set

ISBN 9780367505004
Published November 30, 2021 by Routledge
854 Pages 56 Color & 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This new two volume set of Dick Leonard's British Premiers trilogy, surveys the lives and careers of all the fifty-five Prime Ministers between Sir Robert Walpole (1721-42) and Boris Johnson (2019- ), bringing to life the political achievements and also the personal idiosyncrasies of Britain's rulers over nearly three centuries.

Volume One surveys the lives and careers of all the 32 Prime Ministers from Sir Robert Walpole (1721-42) to Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1894-95) in 32 succinct, informative and entertaining chapters.

Volume Two continues this survey on the remaining 23 Prime Ministers from Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour (1902-05) to Boris Johnson (2019-).

This book will be of key interest to scholars, students and readers of British political history, the Executive, Government, and British Politics.

Table of Contents

VOLUME ONE: British Prime Ministers from Walpole to Salisbury: The 18th and 19th Centuries

Introduction: The Road to the Prime Ministership

PART I: The 18th Century

1. Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford: "All these men have their price"

2. Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington: "George II’s favourite nonentity"

3. Henry Pelham: Pragmatic heir to Walpole

4. Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle: Mighty Panjamdrum, feeble Premier

5. William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire: "I have no motive but the King’s service"

6. John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute: The King’s "dearest friend"

7. George Grenville: Able Premier, undermined by his own prolixity

8. Charles Wentworth-Watson, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham: The conscience of the Whigs

9. William Pitt, the Elder, 1st Earl of Chatham: "I am sure that I can save this country, and that nobody else can"

10. Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton: Well-intentioned dilettante

11. Frederick North, styled Lord North: Outstanding parliamentarian, pity about the colonies…

12. William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne: Intellectual in Politics

13. William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland: Twice a figurehead

14. William Pitt, the Younger: Reformer Turned Reactionary?

PART II: The 19th Century

15. Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth: Better than his Reputation?

16. William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville: Not Quite 'All the Talents'

17. Spencer Perceval: Struck Down in his Prime

18. Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool: Keeping the Show on the Road

19. George Canning: In the Footsteps of Pitt

20. Frederick John Robinson, Viscount Goderich, 1st Earl of Ripon: Inadequate Stopgap

21. Arthur Wesley (Wellesley), 1st Duke of Wellington: Military Hero, Political Misfit?

22. Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey: In the Footsteps of Fox

23. William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne: Mentor to a Young Monarch

24. Sir Robert Peel: Arch Pragmatist or Tory Traitor?

25. Lord John Russell, 1st Earl Russell: From Whig to Liberal

26. Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby: 'The Brilliant Chief, Irregularly Great'

27. George Hamilton Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen: Failure or Scapegoat?

28. Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston: Master Diplomat or Playground Bully?

29. Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield: Climbing 'the Greasy Pole'

30. William Ewart Gladstone: From 'Stern Unbending Tory' to 'The People's William'

31. Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury: Skilful Opponent of Reform

32. Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery: Seeking 'the Palm without the Dust'

VOLUME TWO: Modern British Prime Ministers from Balfour to Johnson


1. Arthur Balfour: Bob’s your Uncle

2. Henry Campbell-Bannerman: "a good, honest Scotchman"

3. H. H. Asquith: Not quite in the Gladstone mould

4. David Lloyd George: "a dynamic force"

5. Andrew Bonar Law: Tory Puritan

6. Stanley Baldwin: "a man of the most utter insignificance"?

7. Ramsay MacDonald: An ‘aristocrat’ among plain men?

8. Neville Chamberlain: A family affair

9. Winston Churchill: His Finest Hour

10. Clement Attlee: Quiet Revolutionary

11. Anthony Eden: Self-destruction of a Prince Charming

12. Harold Macmillan: Idealist into Manipulator

13. Alec Douglas-Home: Right man, wrong Century?

14. Harold Wilson: Master - or victim - of the short term

15. Heath: Cheerleader for Europe

16. James Callaghan: Labour's conservative

17. Margaret Thatcher: Grocer’s daughter to Iron Lady

18. John Major: "Thatcherism with a human face"

19. Tony Blair: Fallen idol

20. Gordon Brown: Dominant Chancellor, uncertain Premier

21. David Cameron: The accidental architect of Brexit

22. Theresa May: "a bloody difficult woman"?

23. Boris Johnson: Statesman or Buffoon?

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Dick Leonard is a journalist, author and former Labour MP. He was Assistant Editor of The Economist for 12 years, and has also worked for The Observer, the BBC, the Fabian Society, the Centre for European Policy Studies and the Publishers Association.