Ribble Ramble

Neil Summersgill's Stock

A brief excursion northwards last week.  In truth, much more of a mini-break than a serious book-hunting expedition – but we did hire a car and spend one day on the book trail.  First stop was a warm welcome at the hilltop lair of Neil Summersgill high above the Ribble Valley, somewhere north-west of Blackburn.  Fantastic views on a clear day, we were told – actually they were pretty good even in the half-mist.  Neil is someone I’ve been buying books from fairly regularly at book-fairs over the last few years – one of those people who always seems to have something irresistible – and I’ve even managed to sell quite a number of them.

Neil Summersgill's Study

His stock at home (viewable strictly by appointment) didn’t in any way disappoint.  The books in truly excellent condition – and very reasonably priced.

Neil Summersgill

Neil Summersgill

Lots of nineteenth-century literature, plenty of other things too – but nothing modern or dust-jacketed.  A boxful of books soon picked out and assembled, which Neil will send on when he returns from his annual American road-trip.

And of course, when booksellers meet it’s not just a matter of buying and selling.  There’s gossip too and anecdotes of past times.  Unsurprisingly, we agreed on the iniquity and uselessness of the big banks – his family’s experiences long and bitter.  It wasn’t always so: my first bank manager backed me to the hilt when I first set up for myself at the age of twenty-three, but then that was back in the blessed days before we ceded the world entirely to the interests of corrupt multinationals and all the crony-corporatism of globalist big business.  It would, needless to say, never happen now.

Richard Thornton's Stock

A tasty sandwich in the local pub and then on to Richard Thornton about ten minutes away.  I’ve bought a dozen or more books from Richard on the internet over the years (he’s been selling that way for twenty years now) – an E. M. Forster, a Ted Hughes, a couple of Philip Larkins, and a particularly nice Tom Stoppard, I seem to recall – but although he was based in London until five years ago, I don’t think we had ever met until now.

Richard Thornton

Richard Thornton

Another warm welcome and a very large stock to look at – some 15,000 books apparently (again viewable strictly by appointment) – mainly modern literature, but children’s books, sport and history too.  Prices very reasonable indeed and another boxful to be sent on soon found.  We briefly discussed another bookseller in the neighbourhood who had curiously told me on the telephone that he really didn’t want me to come and visit – a bit more chat – our book-buying almost done for the day and then on to a rather damp Clitheroe for a (purely medicinal) cream tea.  A very satisfactory day out.  Good books, good booksellers.

Richard Thornton's Car

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About Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

Laurence Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been six times an elected member of the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. He was largely responsible for drafting the Association’s Code of Good Practice first introduced in 1997 (and its recent update), served as Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2001 and as President from 2011 to 2013. He is a former member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society and continues to serve on the Council of the London Topographical Society. He writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades, and has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, London, Reading and Sheffield, as well as at the Bibliographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the Warburg Institute, the National Library of Scotland and at Gresham College and Stationers' Hall. He teaches annually at the London Rare Book School, University of London. Published work includes the compilation of fourteen ‘lives’ for the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, a number of articles for “The Oxford Companion to the Book” and the chapter on early English maps and atlases for the fourth volume of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain”. Essays on the British map trade are also appearing in “The History of Cartography” published by the University of Chicago Press. His long-awaited “British Map Engravers”, co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, was published to critical acclaim in 2011. He also contributed the numerous biographical notes to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012.
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