‘Sleeping with books in Wales: Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden’
A Lecture given by Professor Michael Wheeler followed by Dinner

Athenaeum, London

For our January meeting we are honoured and privileged to be invited to a Lecture followed by Dinner at the Master’s London Club – The Athenaeum. The Club, founded in 1824, is located on the corner of Pall Mall and Waterloo Place. ‘It was founded as a meeting place for men and women who enjoy the life of the mind. Over the years the membership criteria have been widened and now extend to persons of attainment or prominence in any field of intellectual or artistic nature and of substantial value to the community’.

During his retirement at Hawarden Castle, William Ewart Gladstone (for twelve years Prime Minister, spread over four terms beginning in 1868 and ending in 1894) could be seen pushing a wheelbarrow full of books through the village towards the ‘Tin Tabernacle’ that was to become St Deiniol’s Library, now Gladstone’s Library. Professor Wheeler, a reader at the Library for four decades and now Chairman of the Trustees, will tell the story behind the only residential library of its kind in the world and the only prime ministerial library in Britain. In the talk he will explain why Gladstone wanted the thousands of books he donated to be housed in North Wales and how the Library operates today.

Professor Michael Wheeler is a visiting Professor of English at the University of Southampton, which he joined in 1999. He was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge and University College, London where his doctorate was on Elizabeth Gaskell. He was formerly a Director of the Ruskin Programme at Lancaster University, where he led a project to build the award-winning Ruskin Library to house the world’s greatest collection of Ruskin material, and subsequently the Director of the Chawton House Library, home of the Centre for the Study of Early English Women’s Writing. He has published extensively and his research is centred mainly on the impact of religion on the arts in the 19th century. He serves on the advisory boards of three international journals and has been commissioned to write the official history of The Athenaeum, in relation to British culture and politics, since its founding.

The evening will commence with a Reception at 6.30pm followed by the Lecture at 7.00pm and Dinner at 8.00pm. Afterwards there will be optional tours of The Athenaeum for those interested in seeing more of this beautiful building.

Dress will be black tie and Liverymen are encouraged to wear their badges.