About Us


A Surreal Escapade.

I am Bob Jackson. I am in no way qualified to do this job. I do not have the knowledge, temperament or aptitude to spend all my time mooching around books. Nevertheless, this is what I find myself doing, like a permanent holiday.

My mother bought this building for me in 1977 when property here was cheap. I had been a recluse for some years, painting and writing and living on welfare ('the dole'). I had no money and no idea how I might earn a living. For a few years I put on art exhibitions here until 1982, when I started to sell books in a small way.

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Interlude

Then it was main life. The business grew, and the painter Tessa Newcomb and I had children.

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The Southwold Episode

In 2001, my friend Richard Hamburger decided to give up his Drunken Boat bookshop in Southwold: I took it on, calling it the Pinkney's Lane Bookshop. However, this meant that I had to employ people all the time to keep both places running, and I found that I was neglecting the Chapel. As the Chapel was also my home, this was not good. In 2003 Marion Vandome took on the Southwold shop (calling it Southwold Books), and I reverted to being in one place.

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The Smartness Comes

The Chapel had been famous for its organic disarray, and was valued by many people as a refuge from all the rationalising tidiers-up of life and of people's worlds. With a certain detachment due to the Southwold shop not being my home, I had enjoyed playing a different part there, making structural changes to it and keeping it trim. So that, when I found myself back in the Chapel with it's welter of stuffs now feeling run down, I approached it with some of this detachment. This led to big rationalisations, and the building of rooms and a floor, so that domestic storage and unpriced books could be separated from the public shelves, and the books could be better cared for.

A lot of people have told me how they miss the way it was. It is a loss, but I was ready to move on and see what would happen next. Despite the changes, it remains remarkably benign, and is kinder to the books.



















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Improbable Respectability

Many people have helped in the shop over the years, including Harry Tatham, in a variety of capacities for over a decade, China Miéville, who worked here briefly in his youth, and unknown customers who have minded it at a moment's notice. These days, the unexpected visits of Tyona Campbell counter the entropy as if by magic, and in Juliet Bullimore I am blessed with a helpmeet.




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[the striking mixed media photocollage on the home page is by my daughter, Tiggy Gabrielle Jackson Newcomb]
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