William Gladstone resigns as leader of the Liberal Party

Gladstone had been dropping hints since the Liberal Party’s defeat at the election in February 1874. He had been shocked by the election defeat and his narrow re-election at Greenwich and told Lord Granville the Liberal leader in the House of Lord that he reserved the right to quit the leadership ‘at no distant time’. Throughout the year senior Liberal politicians aided by Gladstone’s wife Catherine sought to persuade Gladstone to remain as leader. However, as Gladstone’s appearances in parliament became less frequent, he faced criticism from the party’s rank and file who complained that ‘Achilles was sulking in his tent’. Matters came to a head in January 1875 in a published exchange of letters between Gladstone and Granville which formalised the situation. Gladstone went off to write articles on Homer for the Contemporary Review and Lord Hartington succeeded as leader in the Commons.