Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire
Oliver Darkshire found himself thrust into the mysterious and sometimes mesmerizing world of antiquarian bookselling when he accepted employment at Sotheran’s, one of Britain’s oldest and most eccentric bookstores. Once Upon a Tome recounts Oliver’s exploits at this legendary, yet possibly haunted establishment with its suspicious cupboards and potentially poisoned books.
Early Life and Education
Oliver Darkshire (MA History of the Book, 2020) has written this lively memoir of life at Sotheran’s Booksellers – one of the world’s oldest bookstores, established since 1761! In it is described by Oliver as an antiquarian bookshop where eccentricities reign supreme: one such store being Sotheran’s, where no matter what comes through the door they will find their special corner of bookselling paradise!
Once Darkshire steps inside Henry Sotheran Ltd (established 1761), he finds himself immediately charmed by its charming employees and its unique environment. Soon enough he’s untangling towers of first edition books while appeasing their resident ghost and sharing trivia with an attentive clientele – an intriguing glimpse into an arcane world! Once Upon a Tome is both delightful and funny all at the same time.
Oliver Darkshire entered the world of antiquarian bookselling after responding to an advertisement. His narcolepsy, which had prevented him from finishing school and led to many cancelled appointments with career counselors, seemed ideal for Sotheran’s on London’s Sackville Street where his first job was located.
Darkshire found himself unteetering stacks of first edition books, appeasing the store’s ghost, and navigating an unusual and often slightly dangerous environment. In Once Upon a Tome, Darkshire takes readers on an insider tour of this insular kingdom filled with taxidermied birds, mysterious cupboards, and books that don’t quite belong.
This book is for anyone who has found comfort in libraries or bookstores, and who enjoys learning about other people’s obsessions. Additionally, it serves as a tribute to one of the oldest bookstores worldwide and its history.
Achievement and Honors
Oliver Darkshire entered Henry Sotheran Ltd for an interview for what he imagined would be a one-year bookselling apprenticeship, only to soon find himself unteetering stacks of first edition books, placating collectors, and appeasing its resident ghost.
He has become a highly sought-after detective, sought by clients from all corners of the globe for his keen intellect and relentless pursuit of justice. His investigations often cross into dark magic realms in an attempt to apprehend members of Dark Tabard Gang and other criminals on the run.
He is also the author of multiple popular books on bookselling, such as Once Upon a Tome: My Misadventures in an Ancient and Bizarre Bookshop, an irreverent coming-of-age tale describing his adventures within one of the oldest, oddest bookstores ever known to man.
Oliver Darkshire lives in Manchester, England with his husband and a house filled with books he is trying to rid himself of. As a child he was very bookish and loved to read. Unfortunately as a teenager he developed narcolepsy causing him to sleep anywhere which later affected his exam results and cost him his place at university. Today, Oliver works as an antiquarian bookseller with Twitter handling for their company’s Twitter account and his first book Once Upon a Tome is an inside look into life at one of the world’s oldest bookstores – complete with potentially haunted items, staff resolutely old-fashioned staff, and towering stacks.
Oliver Darkshire provides an entertaining and witty memoir of life as an apprentice at one of the oldest rare bookshops in the world, Sotheran’s, which boasts connections to Dickens, Titanic and an endless supply of tea. Darkshire shares his experiences during his apprenticeship years there.
Oliver Darkshire lives in Manchester with his husband and a houseful of books that he tries not to collect. In his free time he writes one-page RPGs for gamers on Patreon and writes for the Dungeon Master’s Guild; his books can also be found as audiobooks through Amazon; you can learn more about his work by visiting his website; his works have also been regularly published by Literary Hub and BookPage.