though a great many men and not a few women knew Ferdinand Lopez very well, none of them knew whence he had come' Despite his mysterious antecedents, Ferdinand Lopez aspires to join the ranks of British society. An unscrupulous financial speculator,
he determines to marry into respectability and wealth, much against the wishes of his prospective father-in-law. One of the nineteenth century's most memorable outsiders, Lopez's story is set against that of the ultimate insider, Plantagenet Palliser
, Duke of Omnium. Omnium reluctantly accepts the highest office of state; now, at last, he is 'the greatest man in the greatest country in the world'. But his government is a fragile coalition and his wife's enthusiastic assumption of the role of pol
itical hostess becomes a source of embarrassment. Their troubled relationship and that of Lopez and Emily Wharton is a conjunction that generates one of Trollope's most complex and substantial novels. Part of the Palliser series, The Prime Minister '
s tale of personal and political life in the 1870s has acquired a new topicality in the early twenty-first century