Robert Southey, Benjamin Disraeli and Young England

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Abstract

Although the ideology of the Young England movement has been traced to a variety of sources, the influence of Robert Southey on it has largely gone unnoticed. Yet he shared with the Young England group a penchant for the middle ages. Like them, he was not nostalgic for the medieval era just for its own sake but wished to revive its alleged sense of community to offset the perceived social alienation of the new industrial age. While a leader of the movement such as Lord John Manners openly acknowledged his intellectual debt to Southey, Benjamin Disraeli rarely did so. Yet, as this article shows, there was a link in that Disraeli and Southey were acquainted through Benjamin's father Isaac, and Southey's ‘radical Tory’ views can be detected in Disraeli's ‘Young England’ novels.

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