Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Tiny London Bookshop Behind Some of the Very Best Libraries

The late Duke of Devonshire napping in the lower library at Chatsworth. He was a patron and part-owner of Heywood Hill, the bookstore where his wife’s sister Nancy Mitford once worked. Today the shop is owned by his son, the current duke, Peregrine Cavendish. Credit Christopher Simon Sykes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Let’s say you need some books. Maybe you have recently acquired a big fancy house, boat or plane with a big empty library, and you want to fill it with real books, not those things that look like books but are actually built-in fake book spines engraved with ornate titles.
One lazy solution would be to employ a decorator to acquire an aesthetically pleasing instant collection. Another would be to visit an estate sale and hoover up someone else’s, caveat emptor. Or you could do what the smartest bibliophiles do: Put yourself in the hands of the staff at the London bookstore Heywood Hill, who promise to go to the ends of the earth to hunt down the books you need — the rare, the old and the out of print as well as the newly published — to build your perfect custom library.
From left: the shop’s exterior; Nancy Mitford (left) and Anne Hill, wife of the shop’s founder, who ran it together from 1942-45 while he fought in World War II. Credit From left: Carlotta Cardana; the Mitford Archive at Chatsworth       


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