LATE VICTORIAN LIBERALISM AND EMPIRE
William Ewart Gladstone was the most prominent political figure of the second half of Queen Victoria’s reign. This was due in part to the sheer length of his official career. Having first entered government as a Conservative under Sir Robert Peel in the 1830s, by 1859 he had completed his transition to Liberalism. Ten years later he was the acknowledged leader of the Liberal Party, a position he retained for the next two and a half decades. After serving a thorough apprenticeship as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he went on to hold the premiership for an unparalleled four terms, from 1868-74, 1880-5, February to July 1886 and 1892-4.