The tenth and eleventh volumes of Gladstone's Diaries cover the years of his extraordinary second and third administrations. There is much new material on the occupation of Egypt, the `scramble for Africa', the third Reform Bill, and the crisis in Ireland leading eventually to the proposed Home Rule settlement in 1886 and the split of the Liberal Party.
The volumes include not only the daily 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 an important contribution to our understanding of Victorian Britain. The governments of the 1880s are 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 be an essential source for many generations of historians.
`this Diary provides a mirror to the age, and happy hunting for historical browsers' John Pollock, Church of England Newspaper
Some reviewers comments on Volumes I to VI:
`A matchless source of information about the nineteenth century ... The Diaries have a human and psychological interest that nothing else but a continuous factual record of this kind could provide ... One speculates whether Napoleon, had he been sufficiently objective to make the same sort of record, could have provided a document as psychologically or humanly interesting.'
Agatha Ramm, English Historical Review
`They are being superbly edited by H. C. G. Matthew in an impressive display of modern historical scholarship.'
Asa Briggs, Encounter
`A mine of inexhaustible value to professional historians and sociologists.'
Sir Philip Magnus, Times Literary Supplement
`A major venture in editing and publishing ... The principal document for (Gladstone's) own life, and one of the most important for the study of Victorian England.'
S. G. Checkland, Victorian Studies
'monumental enterprise ... affectionate and scholarly presentation'
J. Enoch Powell, Spectator
'one of the great academic marathons'
Times Higher Education Supplement
'Publishing them represents an equally heroic commitment by the Clarendon Press ... they form an unprecedentedly complete picture of 19th-century government at work ... almost as important to each pair of volumes as the diary itself is Colin Matthew's magisterial introductory essay ... Cumulatively these introductions are forming a superb thematic biography in their own right.'
John Campbell, The Times
'meticulous preparation ... Colin Matthew magnificently justifies his claim that "Gladstone's diary ..." should be seen as "one of the central private documents" in unlocking our understanding of the Victorian mentalité.'
Times Literary Supplement
'The authority and skill of the introductions to the successive pairs of volumes of the Diaries has increased with the publication of each. So has the variety and scope of the 'prime-ministerial papers' included from Volume VII onwards.'
D.K. Fieldhouse, Jesus College, Cambridge, The English Historical Review, January 1991
'As the publication of The Gladstone Diaries proceeds, the value of successive volumes increases ... a magisterial evaluation of the statesman and his policies during his second and third administrations ... In future nobody will be able to discuss the exercise of power in this period without frequent recourse to these excellent volumes.'
D.W. Bebbington, University of Stirling, History, Feb '92
'Once again the edition is a superb one ... In his extremely long and, as ever, profoundly subtle and perceptive introduction, Dr Matthew expertly teases out Gladstone's own view of his initiatives, presenting him as rational, conservative and self-disciplined.'
J.P. Parry, King's College, London, Parliamentary History, Vol. 10 pt 2 (1991)
'The new introduction is masterly at every level, and it will be required reading for all students of Gladstone's life and politics. Its easy synthesis of his second prime ministership is a joy to read. For this reviewer, it contained the biggest surprise of the Diaries to date: Gladstone speculated heavily in Egyptian bonds, and thereby made a small fortune out of his conquest of Egypt ... for those who wish it to be so, it is a bombshell, or
equally, a tribute to the total honesty of the Gladstone Diaries Project.'
John Vincent, University of Bristol, Nineteenth-Century Prose, Special Issue XIX, Number 3
'though the diary served a variety of private functions, its public and scholarly value has been teased out through the meticulous editorial work of Colin Matthew'
Alvin Jackson, Queen's University of Belfast, Irish Historical Studies