Over the years the Gladstone has become a destination for literary events in Toronto, with authors from Dionne Brand to Robyn Doolittle to Margaret Atwood choosing to launch their latest works at the hotel.
Seventeen years ago, we started collecting those books with dreams of one day having enough to become a library. Over the years, many authors, publishers and booksellers have obliged us, by making sure we got a copy signed to The Gladstone. These local literary heroes include Pages Unbound (originally called This Is Not A Reading Series), Another Story, Coach House Books, and Ansari Books. Not to mention, our permanent “micro book store” at the front desk, from Flying Books!
Now we are revealing our collection of signed works, shelved in the office of Hotel Founder and Creative Director Christina Zeidler.
We are in good company with other notable literary hotels around the world. The magnificent Monteleone in New Orleans was a gathering spot for Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Hemingway and Faulkner. The Algonquin in New York where the likes of Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, Robert Benchley and Alexander Woollcott lunched around the Round Table and exchanged bon mots. At L’Hotel, in Paris, Oscar Wilde famously quipped, “either this wallpaper goes or I do!”
We’re proud of our uniquely Canadian contribution to this cannon. Our library includes amazing books, many of which are also signed by the authors. The inscriptions in these books range from comical to poignant.
“The Gladstone = so cool!” writes Mariko Tomaki in the cover of Skim.
“To the Gladstone, my favourite place in T.O. and I’m from T.O.!”, says Paul Quarrington from the launch of The Ravine.
It’s taken a community to make this literary collection possible. Publishers and booksellers in an unstable book economy have defied the odds and found success connecting audiences with authors though creative book events. From incorporating theatrical productions, to live music, to art exhibitions, they’ve been successful in creating a relevant cultural scene around books and helping them survive as an art form in the digital age.
Pages Unbound has been instrumental in putting this collection together, having hosted dozens of events in the Ballroom since 2003 (originally titled This Is Not A Reading Series).
Most recently, the hotel has had the honour of hosting several incredible artists and activists through Pages events: in 2018, Governer’s General Award Recipient Vera Frenkel presented her Body Missing Altaussee project in the Ballroom; and just one year earlier, Naomi Klein launched her acclaimed work, The Battle for Paradise.
Many musicians/writers have taken the stage as well, with Hawksley Workman (2016), Tom Wilson (2017), Billy Bragg (2017), and Ian Tyson (2007), having read from their books and performed songs as part of Pages Unbound events.
Book launches are also frequently integrated into the hotel’s exhibitions programming. During this year’s a love ethic exhibition, Wedge Curatorial Projects concurrently presented Alexia Arthurs’ award-winning book, How to Love A Jamaican. It was a perfectly timed event that brought together artistic and literary communities to explore and celebrate contemporary ideas around black love in all its forms.
These are just a few highlights from our past collection — we’ve got plenty more exciting literary events coming up!
Don’t miss Another Story Bookshop’s presentation of Prince’s The Beautiful Ones on November 25.
You can always come on by and buy a book at the Flying Books stand, open 365 days a year! Rotating selections include fiction, memoirs, graphic novels, science, or history – always carefully curated.