William Ewart Gladstone was, perhaps with no one other than Tennyson, Newman, Dickens, Carlyle, and Darwin, one of the stars of nineteenth-century British life. In this award-winning biography, Roy Jenkins brings Gladstone and his century vibrantly to life. Born in Liverpool in 1809, Gladstone lived until 1898, spending sixty-three of his eighty-nine years in the House of Commons. He served for twenty-seven years in the Cabinet, and was Prime Minister four times, a unique accomplishment. From his early career as a Conservative and then a Peelite, through his important role in the formation of the Liberal Party to his late preoccupation with the cause of Irish Home Rule, he was a commanding politician and became a statesman greater even than Peel and a Parliamentarian greater even than Disraeli.Gladstone has been perhaps the most complex individual ever to be Prime Minister. He was a classical scholar, a wide-ranging author, and a participant in all the great theological and liturgical debates of the day, claiming that religion was always more important to him than politics. Gladstone read over twenty thousand books and, when not suffering one of his frequent bouts of illness, walked great distances and chopped down trees for recreation. But he was also, as his seventy years of succinct diaries show, a man obsessed with terrible feelings of his own sinfulness, prone to self-flagellation and an often misunderstood practice of accosting prostitutes and attempting to persuade them of the errors of their ways.