Skip to main content

Second-hand favourites

One of my favourite second-hand bookshops, owned by Keith Fawkes (a direct descendant of Guy Fawkes whose comment is usually sought once a year!), is situated on Flask Walk in Hampstead. Its very location adds to the bookish romantic and nostalgic feel that I enter into whenever I visit, although the attraction has waned somewhat in the past year due to the outside ledges and space being used for a woman who sells bric-a-brac. Yet one of the advantages lies in the fact that the shop is managed by an American man who has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of books covering every discipline. For almost a decade I have bought from here everything from popular fiction to 18th century poetry, (tatty) nineteenth century editions of Carlyle to philosophy (it is here I found a lovely cloth bound A History of Western Philosophy by once local Bertrand Russell) to fly-fishing, (I made that last one up for the alliterative effect, but I’m sure they are all here). Living in London we are spoilt for second-hand bookshops of all types, from the curiously chaotic to the efficiently organised – there’s also Judd Books – one of those rather cleaner, organised set-ups (but still retaining the distinct mustiness of used books) close to the British Library, as well as SKOOB in The Brunswick. Do you have a favourite or a local second-hand bookshop? Have you discovered any prize titles (or long sought after) that you have found?

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.

-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-

And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…