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  • Published: 4 January 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446420331
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496

The Great Man

Sir Robert Walpole: Scoundrel, Genius and Britain's First Prime Minister

The most comprehensive biography of Britain's first - and longest-serving - Prime Minister.

The year 1721 has many splendours: great houses built by William Kent, fine pictures and the fruits of commerce. But there are also thirteen public hanging days a year, drunkenness is endemic, organised crime rampages through the streets. And politics are ferocious. Only a generation earlier, The Pretender failed to take the Crown; the new King is cursed as a damned foreigner; James's followers - the Jacobites - conspire and are persecuted; the South Sea Bubble collapses.Robert Walpole, once imprisoned for financial chicanery, assumes political control and becomes 'Prime Minister'. He personally detects a Jacobite plot, is dismissed in 1727 on the death of George I, recruits the new King's clever wife, Caroline, and bounces cheerfully back. Coarse, corrupt and cynical, Walpole dominates King, Parliament and Government until 1742. This is Mr Worldywiseman, keeping England out of war for twenty years and setting up a stable and growing economy. All politics of a kind we can recognise today begin with Robert Walpole. And here, in Edward Pearce's elegant book, he is brought vividly back to life.

  • Published: 4 January 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446420331
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496

About the author

Edward Pearce

Edward Pearce is a political journalist and author. He has been a leader writer for the Daily Express, a Commons sketch writer and leader writer for the Daily Telegraph, a columnist for the Sunday Times and the Guardian, and sketch writer for the New Statesman. He also writes regularly for the Yorkshire Post, and was a panellist on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze. He has written over 13 books, from The Senate of Lilliput (1983) to his most recent, The Great Man (2007), a life of Sir Robert Walpole.

Also by Edward Pearce

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Praise for The Great Man

It is hard to imagine how anyone could rival this author's unparalleled expertise on prime ministers and politics, which makes him a lucid guide through the arcane maze of 18th-century government.

Frank McLynn, Independent

Richly detailed, stylistically ornate and littered with eccentric asides.

Sunday Telegraph


Mail on Sunday

This is serious history...consistently illuminated by Pearce's sharp prose.

Sunday Express

Few political writers can collapse half a dozen ideas into a single, dense yet witty sentence with such elegance.

Matthew Paris, The Times

A witty narrative written by an author intrigued by his topic.

John Mullan, New Statesman

Admirable ... Any young fans of Downing Street history would be wiser to read this elegant and insightful account of the failures, frustrations and addictions of power by a seasoned political observer.

Ben Wilson, Spectator

Edward Pearce is a magnificent historian, and his biography of Sir Robert Walpole, the first British Prime Minister, is superb.

Iain Sprout, Scotland on Sunday

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