Sex and Mr Gladstone
Trevor Fischer takes a second look at the Victorian prime minister's fascination with street-walkers.
Bill Clinton’s recent troubles have highlighted the difficulties politicians can encounter over sexual matters. Politicians and sex scandals have been headline news for centuries, yet some politicians manage to court disaster and survive. In this context, there are few more intriguing tales than that of Victoria’s most successful prime minister, William Gladstone. In public the epitome of respectability, his relations with women of easy virtue nevertheless raised eyebrows. His Foreign Secretary, Granville, once spoke of having known nine prime ministers, five of whom had committed adultery. Informed Victorians speculated privately whether Gladstone was one of the five.