William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) has been hailed as the most characteristic and extraordinary of Victorians. His expansive public career--in and out of office from 1834 to 1894 and four times Prime Minister--was consistently controversial and dramatic. This work, by a highly acclaimed Gladstone scholar, makes available in a single volume the story of one of the most powerful political personalities in British history. The book describes Gladstone's education, his political career from the early years as a Tory to his spectacular first administration from 1868 to 1874 and the remarkable private drama of sexual temptation and moral crisis, which from the 1840s underlay Gladstone's public life. Illuminating the keen ways in which Gladstone managed to keep himself at the "top of the greasy pole" and become one of the most successful political figures in Britain, the work shows how Gladstone's career and views helped shape parliamentary politics of the Victorian age.