This fall, I traveled for the first time since the pandemic. So, naturally, I turned the trip into another book-related exploration. My husband and I went back to the UK for my stepson’s graduation from Oxford University. We spent time in London, Oxford, and Bath, and happened to be in the country when Queen Elizabeth II passed away. I don’t have time to write out all of the educational and collecting highlights from this trip. I’ll post more photos instead.
I attended my first London Firsts, an annual Antiquarian Book Fair, and took part in events scheduled for members of the Grolier Club.
I enjoyed another lovely and informative book tour around an area of London with Grolier Club member and friend, Anthony Davis. I learn so much from him on his tours and come back with plenty of further reading as a result!
While in London, I enjoyed meeting other Grolier Club members at a social gathering hosted at the London Athenaeum Club. I also visited Jarndyce Booksellers and had the chance to catch up with booksellers from Maggs, Quaritch, and John Windle while at the Book Fair.
[Side note: One of the books I purchased at London Firsts went on a month-long adventure traveling through UK and US customs back and forth until it finally made its way to me sometime in mid-November! DHL seems to be the most reliable for delivery from across the pond in my experience. The book was unharmed, and through the back and forth emails with the bookseller, I feel like I made a new friend in the book world.]
The V&A, possibly my favorite museum in London, had a Beatrice Potter exhibit, including her book illustrations, and a smaller exhibit of Paul Nash’s work as a book designer.
Of course, I also popped back into the British Library Treasures Exhibit to see if anything had been added. They actually had a small exhibit of modern-day British book artists, as well as a small exhibit of comic books. (I ordered a copy of Sad Victorian Comics when I got home because I also enjoy comics and graphic novels and this looked to good not to read.)
I was fortunate to be in Oxford during three significant book-related exhibits: the International Designer Bookbinders Exhibit, the Bodleian’s exhibit entitled Sensational Books focusing on the senses that are evoked through reading books, and the Ashmolean’s exhibit on the Pre-Raphaelite artists, including their book illustrations. Three amazing book-related exhibits in one city! It was an unforgettable trip to Oxford.
In Bath, I visited the historic book bindery and shop of George Bayntun. We took a tour of the bindery with Edward Bayntun-Coward, who was so kind to spend time with us sharing the history and current day production of his shop.
I enjoying asking questions of the binders and also looking at the amazing collection of finishing tools. I hope to get back to spend more time browsing in the shop.
It was a strange time to be in London after the Queen passed away, but it was special to be able to experience how the City of London responded to her death and the sense of respect that they had for her long and distinguished life and reign. There were signs for her in almost every shop window from the smallest side shop in the Underground to the upper end stores and restaurants in London. Regardless of one’s politics, it was quite moving. Although, the next time I make it back to the UK for bookish reasons I hope it will be under calmer circumstances.