Life Beyond the Political Grave: Joseph Chamberlain, 1906-14
David Dutton explores the twilight years of the British statesman following the 1906 General Election.
On July 11th, 1906, three days after celebrating his seventieth birthday amid unprecedented scenes of popular enthusiasm in his native Birmingham, Joseph Chamberlain suffered a crippling stroke. His devoted third wife, Mary, found him on the bathroom floor of their London home, paralysed on the right side of his body and virtually unable to speak. Though his spruce appearance had remained youthful for a man of his years, while his energy had astonished many younger men, Chamberlain's health up to that moment had not been particularly good. Doctors had diagnosed minor heart ailments, which were not improved by his taste for good living and he had become subject to severe headaches which caused frequent and prolonged interruptions in his work. His son Neville, who himself attained the highest political office when past his sixty-eighth birthday, later recalled: