Gladstone's Library goes digital with the Gladstone Bag

Gladstone's Library goes digital with the Gladstone Bag

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We are delighted to announce the launch of the Gladstone Bag, a new online space where we can engage with our community.

Known for their sturdiness, capacity and of course their name, when it came to christening our new in-house network there was only really one choice: the Gladstone Bag, or ‘the Bag’ for short. The Bag is a new online home for all things digital at Gladstone’s Library. In time it will be a space that:

  • hosts the Gladstone’s Library Digital Archive;
  • allows people to volunteer with us from anywhere in the world;
  • livestreams selected events;
  • offers a base for our writers-in-residence;
  • supplies extra information to our Readers and Friends.

Patented in 1854 by Edward Cole the small portmanteau suitcase was allegedly inspired by William Ewart Gladstone’s own travelling bag, used to haul books, papers and correspondence up and down the country as he travelled to public events. What is certain is that the tough leather and rigid frame, opening wide at the top for easy access and with lots of pockets for secure storage, was the perfect companion to anyone who needed to carry the tools of their trade, no matter what those tools might be. Quintessentially Victorian in style, the bags were swiftly found in all sorts of situations: as doctor’s cases, hauling plumbing tools, as storage for valuables on the Titanic…Gladstone bags were so widely known as practical workhorses that Oscar Wilde could be sure that readers would recognise the humour in ‘What a way for a fashionable painter to travel! A Gladstone bag, and an ulster!’ (The Picture of Dorian Grey, 1891).

The bags are practical companions that you can fill with precious cargo and take wherever you go – a perfect metaphor for what we want our new network to offer our Friends and Readers.

All Readers and Friends receive a Gladstone Bag account as part of their registration process. You don’t need to do anything aside from wait for the invitation email to land in your inbox. Simply click the link, enter a password, and that’s it! Be sure to read the guidance on the home page, as this will help you explore the Bag’s many pockets.

Once registered you can open the bag by clicking the blue button at the top right of our main website.

Readers and Friends also benefit from the Bag’s ‘wallet’, a space where all your event e-tickets are gathered and stored for easy access. At the moment only Readers and Friends can access the wallet, but we’re working on expanding access to anyone who buys an event ticket. Watch this space!

Please email with any queries. Please note that the Gladstone Bag officially launches on Monday 16th November. Users can browse before that date but email support will not be in place until the official launch on the 16th November.