I see that there were many booksellers in Victorian London. Was there a particular area that hosted "respectable bookshops", in the manner that Petticoat Lane was a centre for Victorian clothing?

  • 2
    How does a "respectable" bookshop differ from any other kind?
    – Steve Bird
    Jul 19, 2017 at 12:10
  • 3
    @SteveBird The bookshops in Holywell Street were certainly not regarded as "respectable" at the time. Jul 19, 2017 at 12:29
  • 2
    You might also find the references at the end of this answer by @Semaphore to another question about late 19th century bookshops useful. Jul 19, 2017 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


This page on London during the Victorian era offers (emphasis mine):

Further, there are the streets and districts for particular trades, as Long Acre, where the carriage-makers abound; and Lombard Street, where the bankers love to congregate; and Clerkenwell, the district for the watch-makers; and Hatton Garden for the Italian glass-blowers; and the Borough for the hatters; Bermondsey for the tanners; Lambeth for the potters; and Spitalflelds for weavers; and Catherine Street for the newsvendors; and Paternoster Row for the booksellers; and the New Road for the zinc-workers: and Lower Thames Street for the merchants in oranges and foreign fruits; and Mincing Lane for the wholesale grocers; and Holywell Street and Rosemary Lane for old clothes; and so on.

The footnote suggests it's a quote from a book named "The Great World of the London Streets" by Henry Mayhew, 1862. Googling yields a very similarly titled book, "The Great World of London" by the same author from around the same time (1856) that apparently ended up published under a slightly different title in 1862. The online book contains the above quote.

(The quote doesn't say it was a street where "respectable" bookshops were concentrated.)

Editing to add, courtesy of Steve Bird, that the wikipedia article on Paternoster Row also offers that:

In 1819 Paternoster Row was described as "almost synonymous" with the book trade.

Based on: A Pictorial and Descriptive Guide to London and Its Environs: With Two Large Section Plans of Central London... Ward, Lock & Company, Limited. 1819.


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