Not only is the Chelsea Book Fair a keenly awaited international event, but this year it also has the extra attraction of a special exhibition staged by a great institution, The London Library. The world's largest independent lending library, it was founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle - himself a Chelsea resident -and it has retained a place in the hearts of literary Londoners ever since.
2009 sees the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the magnificent 11th century Persian poem, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Ignored on its first appearance, Fitzgerald’s translation was 'discovered' by Rossetti and Swinburne and rapidly became a best-seller. It was produced in hundreds of editions in all sizes and shapes, many of them illustrated, catering to the taste for the ‘exotic east’ in late Victorian England.
Celebrating the anniversary of its publication, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (organiser of the Chelsea Book Fair) has arranged an exhibition in conjunction with The London Library, which holds one of the most comprehensive collections of Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. The Library's collection was donated by Edward Heron-Allen, a London solicitor who himself produced a prose translation of the Rubaiyat. Representative samples from the Heron-Allen collection, including the earliest editions (and even some of the strangest), will also be on show.
Tennyson, Kipling, T.S. Eliot and Isaiah Berlin have been among the former presidents and vice-presidents of The London Library; we cannot promise they will be at Chelsea Old Town Hall in November, but we do hope that Sir Tom Stoppard, its current president, may spare a moment to see the show.
The Chelsea Book Fair is an annual favourite amongst those ‘in the know’; as the Chairman Roger Treglown succinctly says, “It doesn’t matter what your interest, you’re bound to find a book about it at Chelsea!” The Fair enjoys a reputation for its friendliness, charm and variety and it prides itself in offering something for everyone, and this year is no exception.
The ABA Antiquarian Book Fair, Chelsea, is the most visually attractive and undoubtedly the friendliest event in the UK book trade calendar. Like our ‘big brother’ at Olympia it brings together on a smaller scale the cream of UK and overseas exhibitors under one roof in the exquisite venue of the 100 year old Chelsea Old Town Hall. The Old Town Hall is positioned on the lively Kings Road in the heart of fashionable Chelsea.
Dates: 6 & 7 November 2009
Location: Chelsea Old Town Hall, King's Road, London SW3 5EE
Over 75 dealers from the UK and abroad offer a fascinating range of rare books, prints, maps, photographs, ephemera, letters and manuscripts.
Friday 2pm to 7pm
Saturday 11am to 5pm
Tickets on the door £5.00 or free if printed in advance from the website.