Sybil (novel)

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Sybil; or, The Two Nations
First edition title page
AuthorBenjamin Disraeli
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesYoung England trilogy
PublisherHenry Colburn
Publication date

Sybil, or The Two Nations is an 1845 novel by Benjamin Disraeli. Published in the same year as Friedrich Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, Sybil traces the plight of the working classes of England. Disraeli was interested in dealing with the horrific conditions in which the majority of England's working classes lived — or, what is generally called the Condition of England question.

The book is a roman à thèse, or a novel with a thesis — which was meant to create a furor over the squalor that was plaguing England's working class cities.

Disraeli's novel was made into a silent film called Sybil in 1921, starring Evelyn Brent and Cowley Wright.

Disraeli's interest in this subject stemmed from his interest in the Chartist movement, a working-class political reformist movement that sought universal male suffrage and other parliamentary reforms. (Thomas Carlyle sums up the movement in his 1839 book Chartism.[1]) Chartism failed as a parliamentary movement (three petitions to Parliament were rejected); however, five of the "Six Points" of Chartism would become a reality within a century of the group's formation.

Chartism demanded:

  1. Universal suffrage for men
  2. Secret ballot
  3. Removal of property requirements for Parliament
  4. Salaries for Members of Parliament (MPs)
  5. Equal electoral districts
  6. Annually elected Parliament


  • Sybil Gerard
  • Charles Egremont
  • Lord Marney
  • Lord Henry Sydney
  • Lord de Mowbray
  • Rigby
  • Taper
  • Tadpole
  • Lady St. Julians
  • Marchioness of Deloraine
  • Baptist Hatton
  • Aubrey St. Lys
  • Sidonia
  • Devilsdust
  • Dandy Mick
  • Walter Gerard (Sybil's father)
  • Stephen Morley
  • Mr. Mountchesney

See also[edit]



There is no critical edition of Disraeli's novels. Most editions use the text of Longmans Collected Edition (1870–71).[2]

  • Disraeli, Benjamin Sybil. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987) ISBN 0-14-043134-9. Edited with an introduction by Rab Butler and notes by Thom Braun.
  • Disraeli, Benjamin Sybil. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-19-283693-5. Edited with an introduction and notes by Sheila Smith.

Works of criticism[edit]

  • Braun, Thom Disraeli The Novelist. (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1981) ISBN 0 04 809017 4.


  1. ^ Carlyle, Thomas. "Chartism" – via Wikisource.
  2. ^ Disraeli, Benjamin (1987). Braun, Thom (ed.). Sybil. Penguin. p. 17. ISBN 0-14-043134-9.

External links[edit]