William Poole Remembered 1935-2021Posted on 18/02/2021 at 14:02
There are booksellers who have continued to work after the deterioration – or even complete loss - of their eyesight. William Poole was born blind and still managed to become a bookseller, which must surely be a unique achievement. It was a privilege to interview William in the autumn of 2013, when I went to the flat in New Bond Street that he shared with his lifelong companion Patrick Pollard. I’m very grateful to Patrick for letting me know the sad news of William Poole’s death last month at the age of eighty-six. If you haven’t read William Poole’s interview, perhaps I might encourage you to do so in memory of an extraordinary man and a hugely inspiring member of the antiquarian book trade.
The photograph of William Poole, with Patrick Pollard on his left, was taken during an auction at Burgersdijk en Niermans in Leiden in 2017.
An eight-hour cocktail party without any drinkPosted on 18/02/2021 at 13:02
Although I interviewed George Ramsden twenty-one years ago, it is still one of my favourite interviews. The news of his sudden death in 2019 at the age of 65 came as a great shock to the many people who had known and admired him. Described by The Times obituarist as an eccentric and unworldly bookseller, Ramsden began his career working for John Saumarez Smith at Heywood Hill, a shop once described as an ‘eight-hour cocktail party without any drink’. By the time I interviewed Ramsden, he had opened Stone Trough Books in the bibliophile city of York, and had just published his magisterial catalogue of the personal library of Edith Wharton, which he had painstakingly reassembled. We met in London on one of Ramsden’s monthly visits to the PBFA book fair at the Hotel Russell. It was mid-winter and very cold, but Ramsden wanted to be photographed outside in order to show off a new overcoat, of which he was very proud. After the interview was published in The Bookdealer on 17 February 2000, Ramsden wrote me a charming letter saying that he had shown the ‘coat photo’ to his son (aged ten), who had asked eagerly ‘Will the Queen see it?’