Luddites is a project dreamed up by Richard Bolte and Jorien Caers on one dark, stormy night. We think it was also the Ides of March or something—but, like, in October of 2018. After months planning, renovating and deciding we're never coming near a can of paint again, Luddites opened its door on the 5th of March 2020.
Luddites is a safe haven for people who want to evade the digital world, in pursuit of quietude or Bacchic bliss. Housed in a historic building in the center of Antwerp, we offer the largest selection of English books in the city, as well as a great selection of Dutch books. Hidden just up the stairs is a wine bar where customers can enjoy an exceptional but affordable glass of wine. We also regularly schedule events like literary salons, cocktail nights and whatever else we end up plotting.
The Luddites were an English secret society, probably founded in Nottinghamshire, of textile workers whose heyday was in the early 19th Century. They (rightfully) thought that the growing use of machinery in the textile industry was rendering their skills redundant. Their solution? Sneak in, undetected, to textile mills at night and break the machines. In addition, they also wrote poems, songs, and threatening letters to factory owners. As mentioned in the pronunciation section, their name comes from the fact that they claimed to be followers of Ned (or General or Captain) Ludd, a somewhat mythological figure from the late 18th Century who was said to be the first worker to break the machinery in a factory at which he worked. The Luddites themselves became such a nuisance that, in 1812, the British Parliament passed the Frame-Breaking Act, which made it a capital felony (and thus punishable by death) to break the stocking frames in textile mills.
Those were the origins of the term, but today it is more loosely applied to anyone who is opposed to the introduction of new technology, which brings you to us: in the same vein, we want our store and bar to be a bulwark against the tidal wave that is the Information Age. Come in; grab a book; enjoy a glass of wine, and join the counter-revolution!
Pronunciation of "Luddites"
For those of you who are curious: "luddites" is not a French word and is not pronounced like “crudités.” Luddites believed in Luddism and claimed to be followers of Ned Ludd, a largely fictional character probably based on King Lud of Britain, who was also largely fictional. Thus, it is pronounced luh-daits, just like supporters of King James II’s claim to the throne were called Jacobites (ja-kub-baits).