Profile of a Book Lover: William Gladstone

alex atkins bookshelf booksToday, August 9, is National Book Lover’s Day. It is a day when bibliophiles rejoice. Tom Raabe, a self-confessed bibliophile and author of Biblioholism: the Literary Addiction, describes the allure of the bookstore, especially on a day like today: ” The bookstore — Shangri-la, Camelot, the Seven Cities of Cibola, Nepenthe, Oceana, and Erewhon all rolled into one. Utopia and dystopia — it’s where the excesses of our biblioholism are on ready display. Oh, those happy aisles, those euphoric shelves — there’s something about them that sends a bibliopolic into delirious profligacy… Nothing touches the ecstasy of actually buying books, of getting our predaceous little hands on them for keeps. The bookstore — that’s where the bibliophilism in all of us shines.”

But some bibliophiles shine brighter than others. Take the case of William Gladstone who lived from 1892 to 1894. Not only was he an accomplished statesman — he was Prime Minister for the United Kingdom four separate times and Chancellor of the Exchequer four times — he was also in irrepressible biblioholic. Eugene Field, in The Love Affairs of a Bibliophile, recounts a memorable story of how he once went to a London bookshop to purchase a book. Gladstone happened to be shopping there as well. Field overheard the bookshop owner ask, “What books shall I send?” Gladstone gestured with a sweep of his arm and said, “Send me those!” and promptly walked out of the store. Field found the book he wanted and took it to the counter. The proprietor then informed Field that he could not buy the book because it had already been sold to Gladstone: “I haven’t a book for sale — Mr. Gladstone just bought them all!” The proprietor then explained that this was the third time that Gladstone had come into the store and bought the entire store’s inventory.

I submit to you for your consideration: William Gladstone as poster boy for National Book Lover’s Day 2017. What do you say?

Read related posts: Profile of a Book Lover: Sylvester Stallone
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For further reading: Bibliophilism: The Literary Addiction by Tom Raabe


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