You may remember among the photos I included in a piece about Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex, the picture of some bookshelves as Henry James might have seen them (sadly the books pictured are not James’ originals).
I thought I might also share with you some images of other bookshelves I saw on a recent visit to places in East Sussex and Kent, shelves associated with a couple of other literary figures. You may care to imagine, as I did, the authors in these places scribbling away or reading the latest publication sent their way.
First is Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, home to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson. Plebs aren’t allowed in Vita’s writing room in the Tudor tower but they can snap photos through the bars of a gate. To one side is this view of bookshelves, a hexagonal table with clawed feet and, through the arch, a painting on a classical theme; her desk is out of sight to the left.
To the right one sees more books and a chaise-longue, where Vita and her occasional visitor could warm themselves by a fire.
Unfortunately one wasn’t allowed to photograph Harold Nicholson’s own retreat — that too was filled with books — but it’s possible to photograph the Library, fashioned by the pair from former stables and servant’s quarters.
At one end the readers and their visitors are cocooned with books, while the other end has shelves lining the whole of one wall. I do like a collection of books looking as though they have been used regularly rather than those that are there for affectation, just to give the appearance of erudition or intellectualism.
Another home visited in this are was Virginia and Leonard Woolf‘s Monks House in East Sussex. Though only part of the ground floor was available to view there were plenty of books in evidence (again, not all original to the previous owners), for example in the living room …
… in Virginia’s own bedroom …
… even on the stairs.
Charleston, the home of Virginia’s sister Vanessa Bell and her husband Quentin was also well endowed with reading matter everywhere, but neither here nor at the late Christopher Lloyd‘s Great Dixter were photographs allowed so sadly no interior images from here are available, so let me finish off with bookshelves closer to home (home for me being Wales).
First, a shot of the refurbished living room of Llwyn Celyn, the 15th-century farmhouse in the Black Mountains that I’ve referred to in a previous post, now available to hire as a holiday let by The Landmark Trust: shown here is a selection of guidebooks and other material of local interest.
Finally, I end with a recent photo of the Book·ish book van (suitably decorated with well-known fiction titles) outside its shop in Crickhowell, also in the Black Mountains, well worth a visit if you’re in the area and proof that you don’t have to be rich or famous (or even a rich, famous author) to have access to books these days to put on your own shelves