William Wilberforce

  • by William Hague
  • Narrated by Steve Hodson
  • 22 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Hague shows how Wilberforce, after his agonising conversion to evangelical Christianity, was able to lead a powerful tide of opinion, as MP for Hull, against the slave trade, a process which was to take up to half a century to be fully realised. Indeed, he succeeded in rallying to his cause the support in the Commons Debates of some the finest orators in Parliament, having become one of the most respected speakers of those times. Hague examines twenty three crucial years in British political life during which Wilberforce met characters as varied as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Tsar Alexander of Russia, and the one year old future Queen Victoria who used to play at his feet. He was friend and confidant of Pitt, Spencer Perceval and George Canning. He saw these figures raised up or destroyed in twenty three years of war and revolution. Hague presents us with a man who teemed with contradictions, making him a hugely criticised and at times hated figure among his peers. His behaviour and the ideas he upheld led William Cobbett to describe him as a consummate hypocrite. He was described by radicals as a supporter of repression at home, and although he took up a long list of humanitarian causes, on his home turf, he would show himself to be a firm supporter of the instincts, interests and conservatism of the Yorkshire freeholders who sent him to Parliament. William Hague's masterful study of this remarkable and pivotal figure in British politics brings to life the great triumphs and shattering disappointments he experienced in his campaign against the slave trade, and show how immense economic, social and political forces came to join together under the tireless persistence of this unique man.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An informative biography of a great man

I chose this book because I had enjoyed William Hague's excellent biography of William Pitt the Younger. I would rate that narrative a bit higher than the Wilberforce book mainly because of the amount of religious piety that has inevitably to be described to understand the man and his motivations. The final abolition of slavery is a lasting testament to his indefatigable campaigning against the terrible trade. I hadn't realized that it took most of his long parliamentary life to achieve this against diehard supporters of the inhumane practice. While most of the book is taken up with Wilberforce's involvement in promoting anti-slavery legislation, the author places this against the history of the time with wars in Europe and the crisis in the monarchy at the time of the accession of George IV and his battle with the wife he detested. That particular chapter is particularly lively.
I came away from the book feeling horror at the unspeakable cruelty to slaves torn from their homes in Africa starting with the nightmare sea voyage and the sheer hypocrisy of supporters of the trade who professed to be Christians.
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- Kirstine


The story of the abolition of the slave trade is a gripping story of the conquest of good over evil.

William Hague brings the historic detail to life with a passion for parliamentary politics. Wilberforce comes across as a man not just of stern conviction, but a warm character.

I did not just enjoy it, but was moved by it. While the story of slavery is horrible, the story of its conquest can bring joy to every human soul, and Wilberforce is a great man who deserves to be celebrated, because he helped to make the world a better place and the English a better people.
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- VeniVediVocali

Book Details

  • Release Date: 22-10-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios