06 June 2019, The Tablet

Humpty-Dumpty history

Humpty-Dumpty history

Rees-Mogg: ‘The importance of being Jacob’
Photo: PA, Kirsty O’Connor


The Victorians: Twelve Titans Who Forged Britain
(W.H. Allen, 464 PP, £20)
Tablet bookshop price £18 • Tel 020 7799 4064

It is difficult at first to imagine why this book should have been written. The author, currently enjoying limited celebrity as a hardline Brexiteer MP, has disclaimed any ambition to run for Tory Party leader, so The Victorians cannot be seen as a mere positioning exercise in the calculating fashion of Boris Johnson’s recent biography of Churchill.

True, a discreet commemoration is unfolding to mark 200 years since the birth of Victoria herself. But her era, with its formidable array of achievers in every sphere, is hardly forgotten, underrated or misunderstood. So, what was Jacob Rees-Mogg’s purpose in marshalling his 12 forging titans?

The team, as we might expect, includes four Prime Ministers – Peel, Palmerston, Gladstone and Disraeli – with the constitutional theorist Albert Dicey acting as longstop on their parliamentary cricket pitch.

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