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Once Upon a Tome

The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller

Oliver Darkshire



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22 November 2022
Welcome to Sotheran's, the oldest, most bonkers bookshop in the country, with its bizarre clientele, suspicious cupboards, unlabelled keys, poisoned books, some things that aren't even books, and deeply eccentric staff. Think Diary of a Bookseller but with quite a lot more Bernard Black.

Some years ago, Oliver Darkshire stepped into the hushed interior of Henry Sotheran Ltd on Sackville Street (est. 1761) to interview for their bookselling apprenticeship, a decision which has bedevilled him ever since. He'd intended to stay for a year before launching into some less dusty, better remunerated career. Unfortunately for him, the alluring smell of old books and the temptation of a management-approved afternoon nap proved irresistible. Soon he was balancing teetering stacks of first editions, fending off nonagenarian widows with a ten-foot pole and trying not to upset the store's resident ghost (the late Mr Sotheran had unfinished business when he was hit by that tram).

For while Sotheran's might be a treasure trove of literary delights, it sings a siren song to eccentrics. There are not only colleagues whose tastes in rare items range from the inspired to the mildly dangerous, but also zealous collectors seeking knowledge, curios, or simply someone with whom to hold a four hour conversation about books bound in human skin. By turns unhinged and earnestly dog-eared, Once Upon a Tome is the rather colourful story of life in one of the world's oldest bookshops and a love letter to the benign, unruly world of antiquarian bookselling, where to be uncommon or strange is the best possible compliment.

Imprint:   Bantam
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 222mm,  Width: 144mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   377g
ISBN:   9781787636040
ISBN 10:   1787636046
Pages:   256
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Oliver Darkshire is 28, and his life as a struggling bookseller and writer is exactly what his careers instructor warned him would happen if he didn't pay attention. He lives in Manchester with his husband and a house full of books he actively tried not to collect.

Reviews for Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller

Peculiarly hilarious and/or hilariously peculiar! -- William Gibson An enchanting billet-doux to an arcane and eccentric world. Every page is a pleasure. -- Lindsey Fitzharris, bestselling author of <i>The Facemaker</i> A wonderful, eccentric love letter to books and the people who love them... A must read for anyone who has ever lost a few hours in a second hand bookshop or been tutted at by a strangely dressed proprietor. -- Fergus Butler-Gallie, bestselling author of <i>A Field Guide to the English Clergy</i> Utterly charming -- Tom Holland, bestselling author of <i>Dominion</i>

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