Disraeli was born in London, son of an Anglicized Jew,
baptized in 1817. He made his early reputation as a novelist,
and later became leader of the 'Young England' movement.
He opposed Peel's free trade policies, especially after the later repealed the Corn Laws in order to relieve the famine in Ireland.
Leader of the Conservatives, after Peel's followers left the Party, Disraeli became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Derby's minority governments.
He became prime minister on Derby's resignation in 1868, but was defeated soon afterwards in the general election.
For seventeen years public attention was concentrated on the rivalry
between Disraeli and the Liberal leader Gladstone when the nation was
governed by these two men. Generally, Disraeli supported reform
at home and imperialism abroad.
During his 2nd administration (1874--80) Britain became half-owner of the Suez Canal, and the queen assumed the title Empress of India (1876).
Disraeli's diplomacy at the Congress of Berlin (1878) helped to preserve European peace after the conflict between Russia and Turkey in the Balkans. Defeated in 1880 by Gladstone and the Liberals, he then retired.
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