William Ewart Gladstone

Xenophon: Anabasis

Leipzig: Caspar Fritsch, 1785

Sp Coll 2288

In this volume is the bookplate of William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898). The former Prime Minister was born in Liverpool, and educated at Eton and Oxford. Always very religious, he considered ordination to the ministry but was dissuaded from this by his father and instead entered politics, being elected MP for Newark in 1832. Gladstone became Prime Minister for the first time in 1868, then again in 1880, 1886 and 1892. He was a keen advocate of votes for working men and was an inspired speaker who attracted huge crowds to open-air meetings; he was especially popular in the industrial north, where he was seen as a man of the people.

Throughout his life, Gladstone had a strong interest in Classics. He had studied Homer at university, and published several papers on the subject and a three volume work: Studies on Homer and the Heroic Age (Store HA 00898-HA 00900), which differed in many respects from mainstream contemporary scholarship in that he considered Homeric literature represented human society in its early purity and that the subsequent development of Greek society and culture was a deterioration: the Athens of Aristotle's day was not the pinnacle of civilization. He also published translations of Homer, Horace, Dante and other authors. Classical scholarship became integral to his routine, and he valued this work as a balance to restlessness and an aid towards self-control.

The Anabasis is the most famous work of the Greek author Xenophon, (431-355 BC) who accompanied the Ten Thousand, an army of Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger to help him seize the throne of Persia from his brother Artaxerxes II. This work is traditionally one of the first unabridged texts studied by students of ancient Greek because of its simple, direct style.

On Gladstone's death, a large part of his library came into the possession of the Glyn family, who were connected by marriage to the Gladstones. This volume has the bookplate of Frederic, Baron Wolverton, whose family name was Glyn.

Bookplate of W.E. Gladstone in Xenophon: Anabasis
Bookplate of W.E. Gladstone in Xenophon's Anabasis.

Go to the next book in the exhibition, previously owned by: Charles Dickens.