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  • Published: 27 March 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448192441
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 864

Roy Jenkins

The authorised biography of the best Prime Minister Britain never had

Shortlisted for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize

Shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Biography Award

Longlisted for the 2015 Orwell Prize

Winner of the 2014 Political Book Awards Political Biography of the Year

Roy Jenkins was probably the best Prime Minister Britain never had. But though he never reached 10 Downing Street, he left a more enduring mark on British society than most of those who did.

As a radical Home Secretary in the 1960s he drove through the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the legalisation of abortion. An early and consistent advocate of European unity, he played a decisive role in achieving British membership first of the Common Market and then of the European Union. Then in 1981, when both the Conservative and Labour parties had moved sharply to the right and left respectively he founded the centrist Social Democratic Party (SDP) which ultimately paved the way for Tony Blair's creation of New Labour. On top of all this, Jenkins was a compulsive writer whose twenty-three books included best-selling biographies of Asquith, Gladstone and Churchill. He was the embodiment of the liberal establishment with a genius for friendship who knew and cultivated everyone who mattered in the overlapping worlds of politics, literature, diplomacy and academia. His biography is the story of an exceptionally well-filled and well-rounded life.

  • Published: 27 March 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448192441
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 864

About the author

John Campbell

John Campbell is the author of many biographies including one of Edward Heath, for which he won the 1994 NCR award, The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer's Daughter to Iron Lady and, most recently, Pistols at Dawn: Two Hundred Years of Political Rivalry from Pitt and Fox to Blair and Brown. He is married and lives in Kent.

Also by John Campbell

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Praise for Roy Jenkins

Magnificent... A compelling account of a remarkable life


Campbell is simply a master of the art... This book is effortlessly superior.

Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

Marvellous... The highest praise I can give to John Campbell's biography is that Roy Jenkins would have been proud to have been its author.

Alan Johnson, Guardian

A riveting and vital contribution to an understanding of postwar British politics.

Matthew Engel, Financial Times

A wonderful, readable book. Jenkins himself would have been proud to have produced a masterpiece of this calibre.

Leo McKinstry, Daily Express

Captivating... I read every single one of the 749 pages of this long book with relish and fascination. It is a splendid tribute to one of the greatest British politicians and writers (not necessarily in that order) of the last century.

Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

Magnificent… As plump and benign as its subject.

A N Wilson, Evening Standard

A splendidly thorough biography.

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

Campbell is an excellent biographer. He has a strong narrative grasp and knows how to use evidence. His books are not showy, but if you test their propositions, you almost always find them fair.

Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Wonderful... It is the well-rounded life of its subject that makes this book such an entertaining, as well as an instructive, read.

Rachel Sylvester, The Times

One of the best political biographies you could hope to read.

Sunday Times

A page-turner of a biography, written with subtlety, clarity and considerable skill.

Alan Johnson, New Statesman

Stylish and absorbing.

David Marquand, New Statesman


Matthew d'Ancona, Daily Telegraph

The fact that, at the end of this long and thoughtful book, one ends up admiring and liking Jenkins more rather than less is a tribute to Campbell's skills as a biographer but even more to Jenkins's own personality and achievements.

Philip Ziegler, Spectator


Charles Moore, Spectator

Thoroughly researched… Commendably honest.

Simon Heffer, Literary Review

This biography is as substantial as its subject.

Shirley Williams, Tablet

An excellent new biography.


A revealing, informative and entertaining biography of one of the 20th century’s most convivial and intelligent bon viveurs.

Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

A meticulous, authoritative work.

Robbie Millen, The Times

One of the very best political biographies this year… A biography of admiration, but not hagiography.

Keith Simpson, Total Politics

Jenkins himself would have been proud to have written such a masterful biography.

Alan Johnson MP, Radio Times

[Campbell’s] Roy Jenkins…is a towering achievement.

Alan Johnson, Spectator

My political book of the year.

Matthew d’Ancona, Evening Standard

[Campbell] provides a masterly picture of a complex man.

Philip Ziegler, Spectator

The year’s best conventional biography.

Roland White, Sunday Times

Campbell catches his subject as Jenkins caught Churchill.

Terry Philpot, Tablet

This book is a triumph and a must for anyone who wants to understand the turbulent politics of late 20th-century.

Gary Sheffield, BBC History Magazine

This is a political biography that doesn’t just appeal to political anoraks.

Robbie Millen, The Times

A wonderfully entertaining depiction of another political era.

Rachel Sylvester, The Times

A fascinating, brilliantly researched biography of a major politician.

Good Book Guide

Campbell’s masterly biography is a triumph: beautifully written and never less than fascinating

5 stars, Daily Telegraph

Campbell’s masterly biography is a triumph: beautifully written and never less than fascinating

5 stars, Daily Telegraph

a rich and well-crafted account of Jenkin’s life and career

Neil Robinson, Irish Examiner

magnificent… [Campbell] brings his subject to life in a way few would have thought possible.

Iain Dale

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