Mary Gladstone Drew (1847–1927) was the only woman among Prime Minister Gladstone’s private secretariat, her father's political hostess, a notable musician and a close friend of some of the greatest thinkers, statesmen, writers, painters, composers and educational reformers of the day – people like Lord Acton, Arthur Balfour, Alfred Tennyson, John Ruskin, Edward Burne-Jones, Hubert Parry and Henry and Eleanor Sidgwick. This blog considers Mary Gladstone's papers housed in manuscript at Gladstone's Library and the Flintshire Record Office in Hawarden, Wales. (Hawarden Castle was the family seat.) These unpublished writings show a living liberalism through the intimate details of family life, from childhood birthdays to enthusiasticpolitical conversation at dinner parties. Because we usually consider W.E. Gladstone's public life and achievements, looking at the private life provides a unique window into liberalism and the life of one of Britain's longest serving prime ministers. My task has been generously supported by Gladstone's Library in Wales, a beautiful residential library as well as the only Prime Ministerial library in Britain.
This blog, ’Gladstone's Daughter: Living Liberalism’, mostly appears on Thursday mornings because, when in London, the Gladstones hosted their weekly salon as a Thursday Breakfast. The blog is meant to be a conversational opportunity, too. Through Mary's eyes, it introduces the more private life of the Prime Minister's family and, by extension, liberalism. Postings will provide transcriptions and annotations of Mary's writings. For a fortnight after each post, comments are open.
Please note that all manuscript images are copyright material. They may not be reproduced without permission of the Gladstone family, c/o Gladstone's Library. Quoting or paraphrasing the intellectual content of this blog must acknowledge Phyllis Weliver as the author.
Mary's fascinating point of view grows out of the central role that she took in corresponding with family members and major figures of the day. Her position as home daughter gave her an ongoing intimacy with her parents, even after her marriage to Rev. Harry Drew in 1886, since the Drews continued to reside in Hawarden and in the surrounding area. Harry Drew was curate of Hawarden, 1883–97, and beginning in 1894, first Warden of St. Deiniol's Library (now Gladstone's Library); Vicar of Buckley, 1897–1904; and Rector of Hawarden, 1905-10. Mary also played a significant part in her father's political life, serving as his secretary during his first (ostensible) retirement before being appointed one of his Private Secretaries in 1881, toward the beginning of Gladstone's second administration. Luckily for us, she was a prolific diarist and correspondent. While the British Library holds most of W.E. Gladstone's and Mary Gladstone's political papers, Gladstone's Library and the Flintshire Record Office house more of the materials related to family and local affairs.
As for my point of view, it grows from my scholarly background in Victorian Britain, especially my ongoing research on Mary Gladstone. Some of this work is beginning to appear in articles, book chapters, and as a forthcoming book. Further details can be found on other pages of this website.
The postings proper begin with birthday letters – among the earliest preserved writings by Mary Gladstone. They are fun to read because we can all relate to celebrating birthdays, and yet these have specifically Victorian details. Following scholarly convention, I will be referring to Mary Gladstone by her maiden name. Even more frequently, I will use first names to refer to W.E. Gladstone's children in order to avoid confusion with their father, who is usually the referent for ‘Gladstone’. The abbreviation 'GG', found after citations from archival sources, refers to the Glynne-Gladstone Manuscripts. I hope that you will enjoy reading the birthday letters and other postings as the blog continues to develop.
Weliver, Phyllis. “Blog Introduction: Gladstone's Daughter.” Gladstone's Daughter: Living Liberalism. September 18, 2014. Web log post. Date accessed (http://www.phyllisweliver.com/new-blog-1/2014/9/11/c070dil8mf74tqurfd31le7teg2hwv ).
Weliver, P. (2014, Sep 18). Blog Introduction: Gladstone's Daughter. Web log post. Retrieved from http://www.phyllisweliver.com/new-blog-1/2014/9/11/c070dil8mf74tqurfd31le7teg2hwv