So popular and iconic did the bag become in the late 19th and early 19th century that many of the most famous pensmiths of the day found time to mention the Gladstone Bag.
Writer Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924), Polish-born novelist and arguably one of the most talented story tellers of all time, was a great devotee of Gladstone Bags and featured them in many of his tales.
In The Secret Agent Drama in Four Acts he says: ‘His bag in hand, his head lowered, he strode straight behind the counter …. Giving a slight kick to the Gladstone Bag on the floor …’
In Victory: An Island Tale we hear: ‘Ricardo caught hold of the ancient Gladstone Bag and swung it on the wharf with a thump.’
And in A Personal Record, Conrad says: ‘On an early, sleeping morning, changing trains in a hurry, I left my Gladstone Bag in a refreshment room.’
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s featured the Gladstone Bag in many of his Sherlock Holmes stories, including Adventures of Sherlock Holmes where the detective talks of someone ‘needing a wash’, and a subsequent solution to the problem. (“I had an idea that he might (need a wash), and I took the liberty of bringing the tools with me.” He opened the Gladstone Bag as he spoke, and too out, to my astonishment, a very large bath-sponge.”)
Henry Rider Haggard
Henry Rider Haggard found ways to mention Gladstone Bags in his own great writings, including She, where he says: ‘This done, he got my travelling dressing-case out of the Gladstone Bag, and opened it ready for my use.’
Cruel Joke about the Gladstone Bag
(Courtesy a short story in Liberty magazine, Spring 1974)
“Which reminds me that among the Romans women were called ‘baggage’ ….. Since then a girl has often been called “a pretty baggage”, or “bag”. And Mrs. Gladstone, wife of the great English statesman was known as the first Gladstone Bag.”