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Title: The political career of Lady Mary Derby, latterly the fifteenth Countess of Derby (1824-1900)
Author: Davey, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 1971
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis charts the political career of Lady Mary Derby, latterly the fifteenth Countess of Derby. For almost four decades, from the 1850s to 1880s, Mary Derby played an active and influential role at the centre of government. This thesis explores her involvement in several significant political events of the mid-nineteenth century, including the efforts to form a fusion government in the 1860s, the passing ofthe Second Reform Act in 1867, the formation ofDisraeli's Cabinet in 1874, the Eastern Crisis of 1875-1878, and the appointment of the fifteenth Earl of Derby (her second husband) to Gladstone's Cabinet in 1882. It is the contention of this thesis, that our understanding of these events is enhanced, reshaped and altered by treating the Countess as seriously as her contemporaries did. Utilising previously unused or under-explored manuscript collections, the thesis aims to place Lady Derby in her context as a female politician, but it recognises the difficulty of recreating some of the spaces in which female politics took place: Cabinet gossip leaves epistolary traces; Saturday night balls for a thousand guests does not. The thesis uses feminist theory as a hermeneutical key to unlock some of the doors which remain closed to us, but it insists on grounding it in archival realities and measuring it against them. By exploring Lady Derby's political activities during the mid-nineteenth century, this thesis places her alongside traditional stalwarts of nineteenth century politics, for example, Disraeli, Gladstone, and Salisbury, and explores how a woman who had neither the vote nor the opportunity to hold office, was considered their political equal. The career explored here is important not simply in its own right, as showing how a woman could operate in the sphere of 'high' politics, but also as a case study in a wider argument about the need to reintegrate aristocratic women into political history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available