Smorgasbord Reblog – The Best Independent Bookshop in London by Jessica Norrie

I  wanted to share this wonderful post by Jessica Norrie in tribute to her father and his influence on the literary scene in the 1950s and 1960s. This includes the High Hill Bookshop, which became an institution on Hampstead High Street for book lovers from the rich and famous, to those who passed by and were drawn in by the unique window displays. I recommend that you head over and read the rest of this post as I know if you love books.. you will appreciate.

Jessica Norrie

Last year I posted to celebrate what would have been my mother’s ninetieth birthday and this week it’s my late father’s turn. Ian Norrie was what used to be called a “bookman”. He wrote novels, book trade history, and guidebooks, edited, ran a small publishing imprint, wrote for the trade press such as The Bookseller, served on the committees of trade organisations like the National Book League or book prizes, lectured on bookselling and publishing, helped set up an archive of book trade oral history, and worked tirelessly through lunchtimes, evenings and weekends to maintain the bon viveur traditions of publisher wining and dining.

My mother Mavis and my father Ian at a High Hill bookshop party for author E. Arnot Robertson in 1958

The jewel in the crown was the High Hill Bookshop. In 1956 after jobs including journalism and in Foyles, he went to work in a run down shop in Hampstead High Street. From a literally collapsing building they sold new and second hand books, artists’ materials, and greetings cards, adding records and an art gallery after the company went into receivership and my father and friends formed a partnership to buy and rename it. I think the business cost them £10,000 plus £1,300 annual rent. It became the best independent bookshop in North London. By 1988 when it closed, High Hill sold only books, from three shops knocked into one. Hardbacks, art, travel, history and the university departments were on the left, children’s, sport and religion in the middle, and paperbacks on the right.

Read the rest of this post and Jessica would love your feedback:


5 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Reblog – The Best Independent Bookshop in London by Jessica Norrie

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Reblog – The Best Independent Bookshop in London by Jessica Norrie | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Tony Bennett, Houdini and Doyle, Bad Habits, Childhood and Greece | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  3. What a lovely post from Jessica. A great reminder of how bookshops used to be and how they were places you could literally get lost in.We have one such in Brecon and it gives me immeasurable pleasure to visit, explore and find unknown treasures. Despite on line shopping there is nothing quite like being in a bookshop

    Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.