Sheila Markham

in conversation

The originality of Sheila Markham’s conversations with the antiquarian book trade is the privileged insight they give into the quirky yet fascinating world of rare books, demonstrating how very much alive it is today.

She allows every bookseller his or her own monologue to talk about what interests them in their job, how they fell in love with books, or their views on the current state of the trade. Each bookseller has an individual voice – be it modest, earnest, anxious, ironic, zestful, measured, proud, humorous, business-like, secretive or nonchalant.

- Michael Meredith


Sheila Markham’s role is that of a silent recording angel, benign and encouraging, bringing forth occasional glissandos of egotism and ambition, wistful memories of happier or more profitable times, and occasional revelations of life in the real world as Buddhist monk, fashion photographer, drystone waller, bus driver, actor or pedagogue.

- Paul Grinke


An invaluable mine of fact, anecdote, memories, few lies and no statistics. Thank God for all the persons that Sheila Markham has immortalized, and all the rest that she has yet to reach.

- Nicolas Barker


Sketch by the Victorian artist John Leech

Did I really order the large-print edition?

This sketch by the Victorian artist John Leech (Mary Evans Picture Library) appears on the dust-jacket of the two volumes of Sheila Markham’s conversations with the antiquarian book trade published in 2004 and 2014.

The sketch lends itself to a caption competition. If you would like to enter, please send your suggestion to

The Voice of Experience
I started my business with one pound ten shillings. Today you would need £100,000 before even thinking of dealing in good antiquarian books.

Alan Mitchell

Interview of the week Renate and Raymond Kilgarriff

Raymond Kilgarriff

The printing and design of booksellers’ catalogues is very important. We are, after all, supposed to have a bit of an eye for a book. 

Read on ...

Latest updates

Laurence Worms's half-century

Posted on 07/06/2021 at 11:06

Congratulations to Laurence Worms who celebrates fifty years in the book trade in June 2021. My interview with Laurence was conducted at the halfway point in 1995, but he has kindly provided occasional updates which have been added to the original text,


'We Are All Greeks'

Posted on 03/04/2021 at 17:04

On 24 March 2021 Greece began the commemorations to mark the bicentenary of the country's war of independence. Although the armed struggle against the Ottoman Empire began in Moldova, the first successful uprising took place in the Peloponnese in March 1821. In that remote corner of Greece, there is a remarkable library that deserves to be better known. The Public Historical Library of Andritsaina houses the magnificent collection of Konstantinos Agathophron Nikolopoulos (1786-1841), who formed it while living in exile in Paris for most of his life.  The poiema Karkinikon of Ambrose Pamperis, illustrated above, is one of the many bibliographical rarities in the collection. The poem is entirely written in palindromic style, in which each of the 416 lines can be read backwards and forwards. It opens with a portrait of the dedicatee, Tsar Alexander I, and was published in 1802 by George Vendotis, who compiled the Greek dictionary that Lord Byron carried on his travels. It was Byron's support for the cause of Greek self-determination that inspired Philhellenes everywhere to  regard the struggle as their common cause.  As Shelley declared in the preface to his poem Hellas, 'We are all Greeks'.

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