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

English is such a wordy language.

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
A bookseller’s career is the record of what he has handled – whether he buys or sells it, discovers or values it, or simply offers advice.

Arthur Freeman

Interview of the week Ralph and Gillian Stone

Ralph and Gillian Stone

One thing about running a general secondhand bookshop is that you’re going to make 90% of your sales from 10% of your stock and you’re never quite sure which 10% it’s going to be. 

Read on ...

Latest updates

In Memoriam Robin Myers

Posted on 08/05/2023 at 14:05

Robin Myers passed away on the morning of her 97th birthday on 1 May 2023. The first female President of The Bibliographical Society, which she always referred to as ‘Bib Soc’, Robin was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to bibliography. I first met Robin in 1979 when she gave a talk to the Oxford University Society of Bibliophiles on The Stationers’ Company, a year after her appointment as its Honorary Archivist. Robin’s interview may be found here


In Memoriam Robin de Beaumont

Posted on 25/02/2023 at 18:02

Robin de Beaumont has died at the age of 97. A highly-respected and knowledgeable bookseller who began his working life as an architect, Robin was renowned for his incredible eye for books as physical objects. He pioneered renewed interest in Victorian book illustration, and gave his collection of British wood-engraved illustrated books to the British Museum in the 1990s. Robin’s interview may be found here


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