Cecil Court, London
My grandfather gave me a book on butterflies I would never part with. It has the tears, the rips, the smell. If I could make a candle that smelled of old books, I would. There’s nothing more romantic than a library. I need to be surrounded by old books. I really love the library at Chatsworth House [pictured, right]. I love that there are sofas and it’s darkly lit, with walls and walls of books.
Near the National Portrait Gallery is a row of bookshops on a little street [Cecil Court, pictured, right]. I walked past a window and saw a Barbara Hepworth catalogue, and I ended up seeing 20 other things you’ve never even heard of. I like that process, whereas the internet allows you to see only what your brain has told it to. I’ve found some incredible books over the years. I bought a collection that belonged to Vanessa Bell for £100, and inside was a book about Matisse annotated by Clive Bell. There’s Vanessa Bell [writing] to Leonard Woolf and Clive Bell; every Christmas there’s Happy Christmas from Duncan Grant. As objects they are incredible. I’ve put one up for sale on the website [pictured, right, j-w-anderson.com].
When you are obsessed by something, you will starve for a month to have it. I have done that many a time. I recently did it with the Kelmscott Chaucer [pictured, right]. Before William Morris made the book, which is ridiculously expensive to buy – like museum kind of prices – they did two pilot pages, to promote the idea of the book. A dealer I go to had one of these single pages. It’s one of my favourite pieces of typography. [Morris] was an incredibly creative person and in typography in many ways it symbolised the perfect page.