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Friday, 5 January 2018

"The alphabet now ends at Y". Sue Grafton 1940-2017.

We were greatly saddened to hear of the death of Sue Grafton, who lost her battle with cancer on 28th December 2017. Sotheran's has stocked many of her books over the years and they have always found a loyal readership. Grafton had a fine reputation as a writer of crime novels, her most famous work being the "alphabet series" of books featuring the detective Kinsey Millhone. Starting with "A" Is for Alibi in 1982, the novels followed Millhone, described by Grafton as her alter ego, through 25 adventures in the small fictional town of Santa Teresa, California, culminating in "Y" Is for Yesterday, which was published only last year.

Herein lies the tragedy of a creative life - it can't be guaranteed that you will live long enough to complete your magnum opus. As Schubert, Bruckner and Elgar could all tell you, the physical realities of old age or illness are no respecters of artistic inspiration. A project that Sue Grafton began 36 years ago will never see its conclusion, even though she had begun to plan "Z" Is for Zero and had presumably planned the culmination of her life's work. According to Grafton's daughter, no ghostwriter will ever be allowed to write in her name and  "as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y".

This is very different from the approach of, for example, the estate of Ian Fleming, which continues to keep James Bond alive through distinguished writers such as Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd (although these are more than ghostwriters, producing new Bonds under their own names). There must be a huge temptation for artists' families to see an unfinished work through to its completion, just for the sheer satisfaction as well as for financial reasons. Grafton's readers will surely be saddened that they will never see Kinsey Millhone bow out as her creator intended. Nevertheless, there is something quite noble about the Grafton family wanting to keep her creation her own. She was a single-minded writer who refused to sell her books to Hollywood as she couldn't bear to see Millhone in someone else's hands; it seems a fitting memorial that her work is left untouched.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Christmas Cracker

Last night we were pleased to host a launch party for
John Julius Norwich's annual Christmas Cracker.

The shop provides a convivial and interesting setting for events in central London. Please get in touch if you would like us to host your exhibition, lecture or book launch.
Contact Katie Putt

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Vintage Travel Posters Exhibition

Our annual exhibition of Vintage Travel Posters begins today, running till the end of November.

These bright and stylish prints are always popular and we had a particularly busy Private View last night.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Catalogues Galore

We have been putting catalogues together at an unprecedented rate after a slow summer when our shop refurbishment caused something of a backlog. 

  • Piccadilly Notes, our roughly annual roundup of everything we do, came out a couple of weeks ago.
  • Just published — Science and Natural History — maths, medicine and fly fishing; and everything between.
  • Our annual exhibition of Vintage Travel Posters opens on 9th November, with an accompanying catalogue about to arrive from the printer.
  • A Children's and Illustrated Books catalogue is in production and features several books illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, a variety of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" books, some finely bound A.A. Milne's and a few of Kate Greenaway's Almanacs amongst the usual cornucopia.
If you would like a copy of any of these, please get in touch.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Tea time in Iowa City

This year Henry Sotheran Ltd is very proud to show its support, once again, for the annual conference of the Rare Book and Manuscript Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (henceforth mercifully known as the RBMS). This is a highpoint of the year for American rare book librarians and in 2017 is taking place in the lovely midwestern university town of Iowa City.

To learn more about the RBMS and its conference, follow this link to its most attractive website:

Sotherans is showing its support by sponsoring the tea breaks at the Booksellers' Showcase - a fitting tribute from a company of inveterate tiffin takers and a reminder of the importance of friendly relationships between dealers and librarians to building great collections.

So inspired are we by tea, cakes and other comestibles that we've built up quite a reputation as sellers of books on food and drink and so, while the RBMS delegates enjoy a snack at our behest, why not feast your eyes on this recent catalogue?

Chin-chin, everyone!