Dealer Paul Foster.

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1 How did you get your start?

By accident. I was drumming in a rock band in the late 1980s and grew disillusioned with the music business, so looked around for something else to earn a living at. I love books and I’d been helping out in my dad and eldest brother’s bookshops since I was a kid and had picked up a little knowledge so bookselling it was – and this is my 32nd year in business.

2 What is your specialist area?

I mainly deal in fine leather bindings, English literature and children’s and illustrated books. I generally buy books that I like and assume that I can sell them to people with similar taste to me. I also do a sideline in Winston Churchill books, which started when I used to exhibit at several US and Canadian bookfairs each year. Churchill would often pay for all of my expenses at these fairs. I don’t do many fairs these days but will be exhibiting at the PBFA London bookfair in Bloomsbury on September 18.


A selection of Churchill books on offer from Paul Foster. 

3 Who is what great discovery you’ve made?

I did once find, in a central London bookshop, a book of fine original pencil drawings by Charles Armitage Brown, John Keats’ great friend and the owner of what is now known as Keats’ house in Hampstead. He had drawn these caricatures of Hogarth characters in pencil while nursing Keats during his illness. It is now in the Keats collection of The Houghton Library at Harvard.

4 What is one item you would love to get your hands on?

A first edition of Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man from 1791. A real rarity.

5 What is one item you couldn’t do without?

My bed.

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