I'm always pleased to take up the opportunity to share specialist bookshops on this blog, each one is almost certainly unique and – as is the case with this one – they are often places the uninitiated might wonder about visiting but wimp out of. Which is why it's great guest blogger Eric is here to let us know how approachable this bookshop is.
Wildy & Sons
Lincolns Inn Archway, Carey St, London WC2A 2JD
Tel : 020 7242 5778 @Wildys
Posted: 7th January, 2018
Every time I go to London my wish is to take a walk in the legal quarter of the city. Lincoln Inn Fields and its neighbourhood always makes me feel like stepping in to one of my favorite novels: Bleak House by Charles Dickens. No I am not looking for a Megalosaurus waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill but after a quick visit at the grave of Oliver Goldsmith behind Temple Church, I am on my way to visit another species. This one is almost extinguished. It is one of the last remaining legal bookshops in the world: Wildy & Sons.
Wildy’s has been selling law books from Lincoln’s Inn Archway since 1830. When you enter this shop, you feel the presence of the legal profession. An outsider could easily pass by this shop. After all, what can one expect in a legal bookshop besides law books? I think this would be the wrong decision. Every bookshop has a story.
On entering you get the feeling this old shop is just open for business and stock has just been installed on the shelves. Every moment you expect to hear shouting “order” and the sound of the wooden hammer. Staff are spread around the shop and always ready to help. The guy who happens to be in my favourite spot in the shop is never too tired to listen to how amazed I am that this kind of shop still exists. A shop full of lawbooks!
Seeing all these books makes you think about the richness of the common law. I am always impressed about the importance of the English legal history. For example, it is amazing to see that the writings of Sir Edward Coke and the likes are still in print and can be bought at reasonable prices. This is great about England: respecting her past. Wildy is also known for publishing his own books in various law subjects. I am always very interested in the legal biographies.
There are three highlights on visiting the shop. First of all, there is the section of second hand law books. Looking in other bookshops in London, I was always surprised about the small legal history offer. When you visit this shop it seems those books found their home here. It is here that they get their last chance to shine. One who is fond of legal history can never get enough of it. You better prepare your visit by looking at the website.
Another great thing is the legal humour section, just great and a danger for my budget. I think it is very unique for English literature that some writers specialised in this kind of work. This way I learned about great writers such as Henry Cecil... but of course the greatest of all is John Mortimer. His Rumpole series is great. Back on the continent, reading a Rumpole story makes me feel like being beamed into the legal quarter of London for some time. An instant burn out cure.
But in the end the encore is as usual the highlight. It is the barristers’ wig of R.D. Blackmore (1825-1900). The first time I was in the shop I was very curious who this writer was. Reading Lorna Doone some time later made me realise how great and rich English literature is. It was the beginning of an adventure in looking for these names...
A great surprise on my last visit was the fact that there was a book, Poems-in-law by Fay Green. Legal poetry, is this a new section in the making?
Thank you Eric for another great guest post. If you'd like to know which other bookshops he's been visiting take a look here and here.