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Woolfson & Tay


Published in MouthLondon magazine, April 2011.

Like many indies trying to survive in a world of Amazon and e-readers, Woolfson & Tay strives to be more than just a bookshop. Shortlisted for Best Independent of the Year within six months of opening, it seems to be doing a pretty good job of it.

In addition to its cosy café, gallery (and not forgetting the inspiring array of lovingly curated titles) the shop offers an eclectic line-up of events. Recent gatherings have been themed around such varied topics as time, International Women’s Day, Israel-Palestine, remembering the Holocaust, Dickens and outmoded flavour combinations.

What ties it all together, according to the owner, is a belief in the power of story. This was very much in evidence when I went along to the mysteriously titled ‘Shadows and Fog’: an evening of folksingers, storytellers, poets, shadow puppets and magic lantern displays broadly inspired by historical London, and in particular the local unmarked burial ground known as Cross Bones.

The programme was a bit hit and miss (certain brands of folk music just aren’t my cup of tea) but it was wide-ranging enough to ensure everyone enjoyed at least some of it. The atmosphere, on the other hand, was an out-and-out treat: free wine and cupcakes, a relaxed and supportive audience, and a great local vibe.

Nestled in Southwark’s increasingly trendy Bermondsey Square, W&T is an essential literary hub if you’re local to the area, and well worth a trip if you’re not. So give Amazon a miss, check out what’s on and keep this lovely bookshop thriving.

Nigel of Bermondsey and a Victorian magic lantern (thanks Nora Gombos for the pic).

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