The tenth and eleventh volumes of Gladstone’s Diaries cover the years of his atypical second and third administrations. There’s much new material at the occupation of Egypt, the `scramble for Africa’, the third Reform Bill, and the crisis in Ireland leading sooner or later to the proposed Home Rule settlement in 1886 and the split of the Liberal Party.
The volumes include not only the day-to-day text of Gladstone’s personal diary for these years, but also the minutes that he kept of his Cabinets – over 250 in these volumes – and over 1400 of the letters on politics, religion, literature, and personal affairs which he wrote in these years.
The editors long introduction offers an interpretation of this remarkable material and in itself constitutes crucial contribution to our understanding of Victorian Britain. The governments of the 1880s are essentially the most controversial of Gladstone’s career. These two volumes – both in the quality and the quantity of the material they contain – vastly increase our knowledge of late-Victorian government and politics and will probably be an very important source for plenty of generations of historians.