From his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1850s to his retirement in 1894, William Gladstone held sway to an unequalled degree - both over his party and over great sections of the country - for an unparalled time. This is the first volume of Richard Shannon's biography of Gladstone.
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Born in 1809 and dying in 1898, Gladstone lasted almost exactly as long as the century he dominated. As leading light of the Liberal Party and four times Prime Minister, Gladstone's life touches on almost every aspect of the Victorian age. Shannon's magisterial biography, of which this is Volume One (Volume Two is Gladstone: Heroic Minister--1865- 1898) provides a detailed and extremely insightful portrait of the man. Shannon is able to do this, largely, because of Gladstone's lifelong habit of confiding his most intimate thoughts to a detailed personal journal, and this book accordingly shadows the glorious public trajectory of Gladstone's life with his private self-lacerating agonising about, mostly, sex. A devout and married man, Gladstone was drawn to prostitutes (with whom he sublimated his sexual desire into earnest lectures on the evils of their sin) and many women friends (of one of them, the beautiful Maria Summerhayes, he confided to his journal "my thoughts of S. require to be limited and purged"). This guilty fascination is manifest from the earliest days: as a student at Oxford, for instance, he berates himself for giving in to masturbatory temptation: "beast, fool, blackguard, puppy, reptile!". Shannon expertly captures the way these urges were transformed into the "extraordinary intensity" and energy of his political life--a sort of Bill Clinton with the willpower to say "no". -- Adam Roberts
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0140275940