Gladstone was born in London. She was the last daughter of William Gladstone. Helen came to notice when her sister Mary proposed that she should become one of the first students to study at Newnham College in Cambridge. She attended when she was 28 and was far from confident. She was one of 25 students. She decided to not take the tripos but she did pass the higher examination.
In 1886 she turned down the chance of a career as she could have been the first principal of Royal Holloway College but she decided to care for her parents and she was not sure if they just wanted "a Gladstone." Actually she did not need to resign from Newnham until 1896 as by then her parents needed her care. She was remembered at Newnham for telling anecdotes that too frequently mentioned her father. Both of her parents had died by 1900.
Gladstone and Octavia Hill helped to found the Women's University Settlement, located in Nelson Square in Southwark. She became the first warden. This initiative is now known as the Blackfriars Settlement. Gladstone and nine other women had founded the Settlement in 1887, following the establishment of Toynbee Hall, the first of many organisations in deprived communities known as the Settlement Movement. She served in the role until 1910.
- Sheila Fletcher, ‘Gladstone, Helen (1849–1925)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online ed., May 2006, accessed 10 March 2017
- Helen Gladstone, Biographies, Newnham College, retrieved 10 March 2017
- Blackfriars Settlement, History, Retrieved 15 May 2017
- K. D. Reynolds, ‘Schlüter, Auguste (1849–1917)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 14 March 2017