As part of our TIRI Week events, English and Creative Writing students and staff travelled to the beautiful Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, North Wales where we were treated to a delightful day of literature, tea and cake.

Director of Collections and Research, Dr Louisa Yates, gave a us warm welcome, sharing all about the history and development of the residential library and Victorian Prime Minister, William E. Gladstone’s amazingly prolific collection of books (totalling 32,000 items).

Many of Gladstone’s books contain his hand-written annotations and marginalia. Dr Matthew Bradley (Senior Lecturer, University of Liverpool), who has catalogued Gladstone’s reading materials, led a workshop on marginalia and reader annotations, entertainingly using Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger (1959) as our case study. In groups, we annotated our James Bond extracts. With passages lined, double-lined and punctuated with many exclamation marks (!!) – and indeed question marks (?!) – we shared what was annotated, why/why not, and how those annotations were indicated, which was most revealing. This prompted much discussion about our reading habits, focus, and bias, as well as our position as a reader on encountering both the writing of Fleming today and subsequent reader responses.

Enjoying tea & cake!
Welcome by Dr Louisa Yates, Director of Collections & Research

A tour of the atmospheric library ensued; we were given the opportunity to explore the stunning Reading Rooms and discover the hidden gems of Gladstone’s hand annotated collection while browsing amongst the stacked shelves of the wider public holdings.

A deeply inspirational space, we found time to continue on to the pub for lunch and drinks.

We very much look forward to returning to the library again for research and stimulating literary conversation around the hearth.

Let loose in the library!