Coningsby, or The New Generation (1844), is the first of the trilogy of novels that deal with the political condition of early Victorian England. The other two novels, Sybil (1845) and Tancred (1847), carry a social and imperial message, respectively. After its publication by Henry Colburn, Coningsby became an immediate success. The first edition of 1,000 copies was sold in two weeks. In the next three months three more editions were printed. In America 50,000 copies were sold within a few months.
A few months after the publication of Disraeli’s Coningsby, an anonymous pastiche in two volumes was printed under the title Anti-Coningsby; or, the New Generation Grown Old. The book was written — as was soon revealed — by a nineteen-year old precocious author, William North (1824-54), who later became a minor writer and satirist. He was widely published and quite well-known in the 1840s. North criticised Disraeli’s concept of resurrecting the ethos of medieval chivalry as a political doctrine of the Young England faction of the Tory party in Parliament. His satire, which was incidentally quite a good read, contested Disraeli’s political views. In 1847, William Makepeace Thackeray published in Punch a burlesque entitled Codlingsby, in which he parodied fashionable ‘silver-fork’ fiction and Disraeli’s Jewish heritage. He ridiculed the Jew Sidonia, who appears as Mendoza, an old clothes dealer.
Cazamian, Louis. The Social Novel in England, 1830-1850: Dickens, Disraeli, Mrs. Gaskell, Kingsley.1903. Translated by Martin Fido. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973.
Cesarani, David. Disraeli: The Novel Politician. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016.
Disraeli, Benjamin. Coningsby. Project Gutenberg.
Froude, J.A. The Earl of Beaconsfield. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivingto, Limited, 1890.
Kuhn, William M. The Politics of Pleasure: A Portrait of Benjamin Disraeli. London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2006.
Monypenny, William Flavelle. The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Vol. 2. London: John Murray, 1912.
North, William. Anti-Coningsby; or, the New Generation Grown Old. By an Embryo, MP. 2 vols. London: T. C. Newby, 1844.
Last modified 19 March 2018