Good Reading : August 2017
PETER HARRINGTON 100 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London; 43 Dover Street, Mayfair, London peterharrington.co.uk If bookstores have personalities, then Peter Harr ington is the serious, bespectacled, nose-in-the-pages intellectual; the lover of highbrow and books that speak (and smell) of history, mystery and marvellous things. The strength of this bookstore is its antiquarian books. The store was established in 1969 and has become one of the leading rare-books firms in the world, selling from two stores in Mayfair and Fulham Road, Chelsea, as well as at international book and antiques fairs all around the world. While both of the London stores are enticing, it’s the Fulham Road one that perhaps has more atmosphere (by a smidgeon). Grand timber bookshelves, long leaning ladders and tweed-coated, felt-hat-wearing gentlemen poring over first editions make you realise this is a ser ious bookstore indeed. The shelves include rare and valuable books from the 15th to 20th centuries, including a publisher’s copy of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (supposedly the first copy ever bound),Virginia Woolf ’s pocket engagement diaries, and a signed first edition of a Vita Sackville-West garden book, which was displayed in a window of horticultural titles during Chelsea Flower Show week. The illustrated catalogues are like sumptuous magazines in themselves. Peter Harrington passed away in 2003, but his son Pom (great name!) still runs the family business in the same way, with old-fashioned service and magnificent books. A glorious place that reminds you how beautiful bookstores used to be. GOOD READING AUGUST 2017 21 FULLY BOOKED SOUTH KENSINGTON BOOKS 22 Thurloe Street, South Kensington, London kensingtonbooks.co.uk A quiet gem near the South Kensington tube, this sweet spot is great for a browse if you have a few moments before heading to the V&A or catching a train for home. It’s well laid out but narrow, making navigating the tables an obstacle course. But oh, what a lovely one! Every table groans with titles. And the store always seems to be full – with both locals and commuters browsing for their next train read. It’s best for interesting new bibliographies, political books, satire and quirky titles, but there are also good art, architecture and design titles, many of which sit on the main table in the front of the store – a sign of the book’s proximity to the V&A. London Secrets by Janelle McCulloch is published by Images Publishing, rrp $59.95.