W. E. Gladstone towers over the politics of the nineteenth century. He is known for his policies of financial rectitude, his campaigns to settle the Irish question and his championship of the rights of small nations. He remains the only British Prime Minister to have served for four separate terms. In 1998 an international conference at Chester College brought together Gladstone scholars to mark the centenary of his death, and many of the papers presented on that occasion are published in this volume. Covering the whole of the statesman’s long political life from the first Reform Act to the last decade of the nineteenth century, they range over topics as diverse as parliamentary reform and free trade, Gladstone’s English Nonconformist supporters and his Irish Unionist opponents. A select bibliography, arranged by subject, supplies guidance for further research. The collection forms a tribute, appreciative but critical, to the Grand Old Man of British politics.
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98) was the outstanding statesman of the Victorian age. He was an MP for over sixty years, a long serving and exceptional Chancellor of the Exchequer and four times Prime Minister. As the leader of the Liberal party over three decades, he personified the values and policies of later Victorian Liberalism. Gladstone, however, was always more than just a politician. He was also a considerable scholar, a dedicated Churchman and had a range of interests and connections that made him, in many respects, the quintessential Victorian. Yet important aspects of Gladstone's life have received relatively little recent attention from historians. This study reappraises Gladstone by focusing on five themes: his reputation; his representation in visual and material culture; his personal life; his role as an official; and the ethical and political basis of his international policies. This collection of original, often multidisciplinary studies, provides new perspectives on Gladstone's public and private life. As such, it illustrates the many-sided nature of his career and the complexities of his personality.
This interdisciplinary study explores how book culture functioned in the life and milieu of one of the nineteenth century's most complex figures. Spanning the statesman's long life, it presents key case studies illuminating the constant and fundamental interplay between reading, life and politics which characterised Gladstone's world. Grounded in historical studies and yet methodologically informed, this study offers a radically different understanding of Gladstone, challenging many long-established preconceptions and contributing an important new history of reading to nineteenth-century studies.