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Title: 'Enlarging the text' : a cultural history of William Ewart Gladstone's library and reading
Author: Clayton, Ruth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 7450
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis explores Gladstone's relationship with his book-collection and Library chronologically and thematically. It is interdisciplinary in scope and methodology. It is based primarily on study of Gladstone's books and marginalia (preserved at Hawarden, North Wales) and integrates his reading and library ownership securely into our understanding of his life and career. 'Enlarging the Text', is a late quotation from Gladstone particularly appropriate to the thrust of the thesis. By it he referred to the persistent human desire to acquire and transmit knowledge. This study analyses Gladstone's personal efforts to achieve this through the collection, use and eventual 'public' endowment of a library. The phrase refers both to this endeavour and the concomitant broadening of Gladstone's mind, which I argue accompanied it. The thesis is divided into three sections: 'Making the Reader' (Chapters 1-3), 'Transforming the Reader' (Chapters 4-5) and 'Enlarging the Text' (Chapters 6-7). Chapter One places Gladstone's early book collecting and reading within the contexts of his family life and late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century society. Chapter Two presents a case study of Gladstone's reading and reception of Sir Walter Scott and presents new insights into the significance of this textual relationship to his personal life, identity, nationality and understanding of political vocation. Chapter Three addresses the development and function of Gladstone's private Library, principally located in Hawarden Castle. This chapter is concerned with issues of privacy and publicity, which is a central theme of the thesis as a whole, and concludes with discussion of Gladstone's 'forbidden' reading and collecting outside the Temple of Peace. Chapter Four deals with the events surrounding Gladstone's first retirement in 1874-5. It looks in detail at the circumstances and meaning of Gladstone's retirement, his uncertain status as an intellectual in politics and his continual struggle to decide whether his public vocation should best be lived out politically or theologically. It then seeks to explain how this statesman/scholar paradox was largely resolved in the years up to 1880. Chapter Five presents an analytical case study of Gladstone's representation as a scholar and reader through visual imagery. It shows how Gladstone's scholarly persona was subject to a multiplicity of 'outside' readings over the course of his life and conclusively demonstrates how his early unpopular image was visually reinvented (importantly by Gladstone himself) over the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Furthermore it constitutes a balance to the private, interior-focused sources, which are so fundamental to this project. Chapter Six returns to the complex debate over Gladstone's later religious attitudes. It questions previous characterisations of him as an ultra-orthodox religious dogmatist, which have both misrepresented his theological, ecclesiastical and epistemological views and have also made his foundation of St Deiniol's Library extremely difficult to explain. It is argued that he is best described during his last years as a Liberal Catholic rather than as a High Churchman. The second part of the chapter provides fresh evidence for this through coverage of an important but previously overlooked aspect of the St Deiniol's foundation: the impact of Gladstone's relationship with the Liberal-Catholic Anglican Lux Mundi group, active in the Oxford of the 1880s. The final chapter discusses the circumstances and motivations behind Gladstone's decision to found his Residential Library in rural North Wales and highlights the difficulties he faced in making this personal and practical contribution to the Liberal Catholic movement. In summary, this thesis raises the profile of Gladstone's Library as an historical source. It provides the first in-depth chronological and thematic study of Gladstone's lifetime of book collecting and library building. It revises and fully contextualises the history and significance of St Deiniol's Library, integrating it within the broader context of Gladstone's intellectual and religious life. It offers a significant new interpretation of Gladstone's later theology and presents a fresh perspective on the Gladstone 'myth' through study of visual representation and analysis of his intellectual and scholarly persona.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; Z719 Libraries (General)