New Book | Edward Geoffrey Stanley, A Grand Tour Journal, 1820–22

Posted in books by Editor on March 1, 2023

From Fonthill Media:

Edward Geoffrey Stanley, with an introduction and notes by Angus Hawkins, A Grand Tour Journal, 1820–1822: The Awakening of the Man (Stroud: Fonthill Media, 2022), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1781558904, £25 / $35.

In December 1820, at twenty-one years old, Edward Geoffrey Stanley, the future 14th earl of Derby and three-times prime minister, began an extensive tour of continental Europe. By the time of his return to England twenty months later, he had visited many of the foremost centres for art and culture in Europe, and mostly in Italy. In his travel diaries he recorded his intensive social life, his visits to historical sites, his viewings of art collections, his comments on architecture, his admiration of landscapes, and his impressions of foreign societies. He was energetic, enthusiastic, and discerning: the bridge of Augustus in Umbria gave him “a stupendous idea of Roman grandeur”; the charm of the towns crowning the Tuscan hills struck him with the same delight that he felt when gazing at one of Poussin’s paintings; the waterfall at Terni, which dropped 370 feet into an abyss of spray, was “awfully magnificent”; while the ceremonies of the Italian Catholic Church he judged to be a blend of mummery, superstition, and bigotry. Sights and experiences like these influenced him for the rest of his life. This precious collection of diaries—found only recently and published here for the first time—reveal Edward Stanley to have been a young man of diligence, courage, and decisiveness: a future leader with a conspicuous and burgeoning sense of political and social justice. It was these characteristics, seen in early development within these pages, that shaped the man and the extraordinary career to come.

Edward Geoffrey Stanley (1799–1869), later Lord Stanley and the 14th earl of Derby, was the first British statesman to become prime minister three times and remains the longest serving party leader in modern British politics.

Angus Hawkins (1953–2020) was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and director of the Research Centre in Victorian Political Culture at Keble College, University of Oxford. Professor Hawkins wrote an acclaimed two-volume biography of Edward Geoffrey Stanley, The Forgotten Prime Minister, published by Oxford University Press in 2007 and 2008.

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