While I should be writing

Heywood Hill: the exceptions begin

Heywood Hill on 10 Curzon Street, Mayfair, was the very first bookshop I visited yesterday, and also the first time my strict one-book-rule was broken. Well, it’s more of a guideline anyway,

The glorious, sunshine-bookshop-filled day began at this lovely bookshop, situated on two floors of a Georgian townhouse. Nancy Mitford used to work here during the world, when her “gregarious character and witty repartee helped establish Heywood Hill’s shop as a centre of English social and literary life during the 1940s”. Legend has it that one evening Nancy forgot to lock up the store. When she arrived the following morning she found the shop full of people trying to buy books from each other.”

The Nancy Mitford-story naturally got me thinking: what modern-day cultural figures would I most like to have working in a bookshop? Me, I would quite like to walk in there and find Stephen Fry behind the till. Am sure he would give excellent comments on the books, as well as life, politics and religion and any other topic he happened to broach.

The Heywood Hill sells literature, history, architecture, biography and travels, but I think the manager saves her real passion for the well-stocked children department, filled with old and new classics. “I love children’s books. It’s where you find the best stories today. But they have to be published with pride. These are the books you want to be able to give as a gift, or pass down to your own children, or save and re-read when your older. Just look at this beautiful edition of Anne of Green Gables. Or this one, of Little women. We have to other editions as well, but one is quite hideous. We’ll never sell it. Just compare these two. Or this” – looking sternly at Louise and showing her another title – “Beautiful books, but only three of them are published in hardback. By your publisher. The rest are paperback. How can you give that away as a gift? And these are lovely. Just look at the amount of work and details pride that’s gone in to all of these?”

Which was quite true about the children department and Heywood Hill in general as well.

Books bought: Five children and it and Five children at the Western front. 

So many lovely details
And so many lovely books