Once Upon a Tome

Once Upon a Tome: The misadventures of a rare bookseller

Non-Fiction, Biography & Memoir, Literary Biography & Memoir, Business Reference
Hardback Published on: 06/10/2022
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Bookseller Reviews

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Once Upon a Tome
Curiouser and curiouser said Oliver
If you already follow @Sotherans on Twitter then you'd be forgiven for assuming this is going to be a really good read. You'd also be correct, as Darkshire... READ MORE
Sam at Canary Wharf
Once Upon a Tome
A Book Lover's Delight
I started following Oliver when he was in charge of the Sotheran's Twitter feed. He is a joyous soul who wears his learning lightly and has a wonderful sen... READ MORE
Katy Wheatley
Once Upon a Tome
disarmingly charming
A wonderful memoir about the trials and tribulations of working in the rare bookselling world. Oliver Darkshire's (amazing name) book had me laughing out l... READ MORE
Rhea | Barnstaple
Once Upon a Tome
The Old Curiosity Bookseller Reveals A Glimpse Of His Secret World
The world of antiquity bookselling in all its peculiar glory set out by one of my favourite account authors on Twitter Yes Sotheran's is the oldest booksh... READ MORE
Nicole @hemelwstones
Once Upon a Tome
Tome Like it Hot
Oliver wryly relays his experiences as an antiquarian bookseller and in some ways shatters the romantic ideals of a bookshop. Yes, they can be magical, how... READ MORE
Sophie Riley


Some years ago, Oliver Darkshire stepped into the hushed interior of Henry Sotheran Ltd on Sackville Street (est. 1761) to interview for their bookselling apprenticeship, a decision which has bedevilled him ever since. He'd intended to stay for a year before launching into some less dusty, better remunerated career. Unfortunately for him, the alluring smell of old books and the temptation of a management-approved afternoon nap proved irresistible. Soon he was balancing teetering stacks of first editions, fending off nonagenarian widows with a ten-foot pole and trying not to upset the store's resident ghost (the late Mr Sotheran had unfinished business when he was hit by that tram).

For while Sotheran's might be a treasure trove of literary delights, it sings a siren song to eccentrics. There are not only colleagues whose tastes in rare items range from the inspired to the mildly dangerous, but also zealous collectors seeking knowledge, curios, or simply someone with whom to hold a four hour conversation about books bound in human skin. By turns unhinged and earnestly dog-eared, Once Upon a Tome is the rather colourful story of life in one of the world's oldest bookshops and a love letter to the benign, unruly world of antiquarian bookselling, where to be uncommon or strange is the best possible compliment.

  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • ISBN: 9781787636040
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Weight: 377g
  • Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 26 mm

Customer Reviews

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Once Upon a Tome
Highly recommended
I loved this book, loved the style of writing, the humour and loved the descriptions of the shop. It's an intriguing book that talks about working in one o... READ MORE
Once Upon a Tome
a brilliant read
This was a brilliant book. I enjoyed it so much . This author wrote this book with some brilliant whit. I just had to finish this book in one sitting as I ... READ MORE
Once Upon a Tome
Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire is a memoir about working as a rare bookseller. It was interesting to see this journey from a different perspective. L... READ MORE