As the governing party of peace and reform, and then as the third party striving to keep the flame of freedom alive, the Liberal Party, the SDP and the Liberal Democrats have played an undoubtedly crucial role in the shaping of contemporary British society. And yet, the leaders who have stood at its helm - from Earl Grey to Nick Clegg, via William Gladstone, David Lloyd George and Paddy Ashdown - have steered the Liberal vessel with enormously varying degrees of success. With the widening of the franchise, revolutionary changes to social values and the growing ubiquity of the media, the requirements, techniques and goals of Liberal leadership since the party's origins in the struggle for the Great Reform Act have been forced to evolve almost beyond recognition - and not all its leaders have managed to keep up. This comprehensive and enlightening book considers the attributes and achievements of each leader in the context of their respective time and political landscape, offering a compelling analytical framework by which they may be judged, detailed personal biographies from some of the leading academics and experts on Liberal history, and exclusive interviews with former leaders themselves. An indispensable contribution to the study of party leadership, British Liberal Leaders is the essential guide to understanding British political history and governance through the prism of those who created it.