Books matter. Books spread knowledge and ideas. That’s why dictators burn them, that’s why the father of a woman I knew in Africa burnt any he found her reading. The right words in the right order, once disseminated, are indestructible and have a power beyond any weapons.
By accident of birth I was born into a great book-selling family. William Foyle, my maternal grandfather, was one of the greatest booksellers of the 20th century and a huge influence on my early life, but I never had ambitions to be a bookseller. I wanted, like him, to carve my own path through life, which I did, and only got involved in helping to run the family’s business after my aunt Christina Foyle died, a few months before the start of the 21st century, leaving a management vacuum. My mother, Christina’s older sister, had a small shareholding and at her request I joined the board.
Foyles has however influenced my whole life: having the run of the shop as a child gave me a love of books and it was the books I found in Foyles which gave me the wanderlust which led to me spending much of my working life overseas.
My memoir of my lifelong relationship with a great bookshop, An Accidental Bookseller, was published in June 2019. A portion of the sale proceeds will go to The Booktrade Charity