Broadleaf Books

Latest News!

September 15, 2023, OPENING TIMES

Broadleaf is OPEN on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10am to 4pm

HOLIDAYS when the shop will be closed:
Tuesday 3rd October – 6th October
OPEN on Saturday 7th October for the Abergavenny Book Fair in The Priory Centre, opposite Broadleaf Books
Closed: Tuesday 10th to Tuesday 17th when the shop will be open

January 11, 2023, JANUARY 2023

Welcome to the year 2023. Just as a reminder Broadleaf is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10-4. Visitors are always very welcome to browse the eclectic stock and find titles they may not have seen elsewhere or have not seen for some time. Do come and take a look.
Good stock is always wanted so if you have good quality books ranging from subjects such as history, science, philosophy, folklore and myth, photographic monographs, Folio publications, country life and farming, politics, children’s books, or any other subjects you think might suit the shop do get in touch.

December 21, 2022, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS

Broadleaf will be open until 4pm Saturday 24th.
Open again Tuesday 3rd January 2023

Very many thanks for all the support given over 2022. We hope you have merry festivities and a glad welcome into the turning of the year.

November 23, 2022, NOVEMBER 2022

With Christmas not very far away what better present can you give but a book. Come and visit Broadleaf and find some fabulous titles. We are open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 10 am to 4pm.

August 6, 2022, August 2002. King Penguins

Broadleaf recently purchased almost a whole collection of the very beautiful King Penguin books. Many have sold but some still remain. Should you visit you might be lucky enough to pick one or two up. Allen Lane, then in charge of Penguin books, took inspiration for the King Penguin series from the German publisher Insel. The first of what went on to be 76 titles was published in 1939 and finished in 1959. All are hardbacks. They are notable for their stunningly designed dust jackets and boards and for their colour lithograhic illustrations inside. Artists such as John Piper, Edward Bawden and Barbara Jones were just a few who made these books so desirable.


Broadleaf is taking a short spring holiday from Wednesday 23 March to Tuesday 29 March.
If you want to drop off books they can be left with any of my neighbours. To contact just email or leave a message on the answer phone. A reply will be given the next day.


The shop will be closed on Friday 4 March. Open as usual Saturday 5 March. To remind you of opening times: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10-4.

If you are thinking of selling books please think of contacting Broadleaf before putting them into charity shops. Many of the latter no longer accept books and tend to only put popular novels on their shelves. We are always looking for good quality, interesting books. Books that you yourselves might think of buying. If you have a car you can always pull up on the pavement outside the shop and we can soon tell if we can help or not. If you are able to do this try to avoid Tuesday.

January 8, 2022, HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR 2022

Broadleaf is open after the Christmas break. Just a reminder of days and hours.
Visits and enquiries always welcome.




December 21, 2021, MERRY CHRISTMAS

A very merry Christmas to everyone. Thank you all for your support during the year. May you have a very healthy and happy new year.


Broadleaf is taking a few days off. Open again Tuesday 28 September. Any enquiries just email.

September 7, 2021, September 7 2021

What a glorious month is September. So much abundance of fruit and the scent of change in the air. Low mists and a golden like light. Four Hedges A Gardener’s Chronicle written and engraved in 1935 by Clare Leighton describes each month so evocatively. For the month of September she writes:

“How gentle this September sun is, and kind. No longer is there cruelty in it at midday, so that one runs from its blaze into coolness; rather does one grasp at its warmth, knowing that so soon it will be gone. The whole garden of flowers glows under it, with a misty golden colour that the glaring summer lacked. I believe I could tell the time of year if I were to see neither trees nor flowers nor birds, but only light……In this golden glow the perennial bed blossoms with michaelmas daisies and chrysanthemums, asters, violas and giant balsams. It has never looked so beautiful”.

September 18-19th is the Abergavenny Food Festival when the town is overflowing with produce. So, if you would like to feed your minds as well as your stomachs come and visit Broadleaf. The shop will be open Saturday and Sunday 10-4pm.

August 1, 2021, Opening hours

Just a reminder that Broadleaf is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

August 1, 2021, “What better than a Whippet in a bookshop”

Meet Skippy a very beautiful visitor to Broadleaf. Many thanks to his owners for visiting and for the quote.

July 1, 2021, Summer and the gardens and hedgerows bloom

Already we are in the summer months. The gardens around Abergaveny are looking beautiful. It is also lovely to see hedgerows and verges being left uncut this year with the slogan of: Don’t mow – Let it grow. The shop garden takes this very literally and is full of wild flowers. Walking through it has to be done very carefully.

Come and visit the shop. There are gardening books of all sorts. The cookery books are all back in the shop with just one or two left for show at The Angel Bakery. They have been selling well, as have all the other various subjects.

A reminder of the opening times: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday between 10am – 4pm.


Broadleaf will be open again from Tuesday 4 May. We look forward to seeing you.

March 10, 2021, ART IN WALES

There has been a brilliant BBC Four series of three programmes presented by Huw Stephens called The Story of Art in Wales. They illustrate so well how blessed Wales has been and is for really great art. Amongst many art books Broadleaf has a few on some of the artists mentioned in the programmes – as shown opposite.

Lockdown continues but the shop has been trading well on line and even selling from the display of books in the window. You can always email with any enquiries or buy on line at Although the web site says Broadleaf trades on amazon this has not been the case for a very long time.


Abergavenny is very fortunate to have The Angel Bakery providing a wonderful range of breads and pastries. These include their very popular long-fermented sourdough loaves, focaccia, pain au chocolat and many more mouth wateringly delicious bakes. At the end of November they moved to bigger premises at the corner of Broadleaf’s street and asked the shop to provide cookbooks to sell in the new store. This is proving very successful for Broadleaf and the Bakery. The books sit well amongst the extended range of products now on offer at the Bakery which is aiming to be more of a general store. The photographs opposite give some idea of what is on offer. Far better to visit yourself and indulge ………………

October 28, 2020, October 28th and in another lockdown

Hopefully this lockdown will end on 9th November and Broadleaf can open its doors to you once again. You can still buy books on line, I now have an answer phone so if you have any queries do call. I come into the shop most mornings. I look forward to seeing you very soon in the shop.

August 13, 2020, Broadleaf Books open. TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY 10-4pm
June 8, 2020, Shop Update

The shop remains shut so please do not make telephone calls to the number as nobody is in the shop to answer. Please make all enquiries by email:

If you wish to SELL YOUR BOOKS do please email. Arrangements can be made for you to safely drop them off. Or, if nearby, they could be collected from you from your door. Always looking for good quality interesting stock. If you can send a list, send photographs, or give some information on the kind of books you may have it can be very helpful and save time on both sides.


Broadleaf has been selling quite well on line since lock down so do browse under the Buy Books heading under the abebooks link. The shop ceased selling on amazon some time ago so do not try to buy from that link. As a rather poor substitute to browsing the shelves some photographs have been put up on the page opposite. If you keep scrolling down you will see these. The spines in some cases have been turned sideways for ease of scanning. You never know you may see something of interest.

March 21, 2020, CORONAVIRUS and Broadleaf Books

To protect my customers and myself Broadleaf has taken the decision as of today to close the shop for a while. This is a very difficult decision to make for such a small, independent business but it is the safest. Broadleaf will try to survive through these unprecedented times by increasing its on line presence through abe books whilst looking forward to a small grant from the government to help get through these difficult times. If you go to the ‘Buy Books’ page on the website there is a direct link to abe books and you can browse the stock and purchase books. I no longer sell on amazon so that is not relevant.

IF YOU HAVE BOOKS TO SELL please email Stock is still VERY MUCH needed and will help with on line sales. If you contact arrangements can be made to aid delivery or visiting.

Broadleaf is always so grateful for the wonderful support it has received through twelve years of trading in Monk Street and very much looks forward to seeing you again in the future.

February 22, 2020, WOOD ENGRAVERS

Broadleaf has been very fortunate to have just acquired some lovely books full of wood engravings and woodcuts. The names of some of these artists may be familiar to lovers of the medium: names such as Clare Leighton, Charles Tunnicliffe, John Lawrence, Reynolds Stone and Barbara Greg, and some may be not so well known such as J Yunge Bateman, Elizabeth Allen, Stephen Bone, Gwenda Morgan and Margaret Webb. All of these artists were working between the late 1920s and early 1950s. Their work is usually in books on country life or gardening and is always stunning.

CLAIRE LEIGHTON was the first woman to produce a book on wood engraving (Wood Engraving and Woodcuts, 1932 – of which Broadleaf has a copy). This book helped to popularize the medium. Leighton was born 1898 and died 1989. She was a writer and illustrator best known for her wood engravings. Her love lay in the countryside and with the workers of the land so many of her books praise the virtues of the countryside. Her book entitled Four Hedges has long been a favourite as her combination of engravings and writing is sublime.

GWENDA MORGAN was born 1908 and died 1991. Her wood engravings were influenced by Iain Macnab her teacher at Grosvenor School of Modern Art in Pimlico, London. This was a progressive art school championing wood engraving and linocuts and helped her to go on to develop her own style. An illustrator for the Golden Cockerell Press her work drew on the landscape and buildings of Petworth and the neighbouring South Downs. A Little Place in the Country by Marjorie Hessell Tiltman, Hodder and Stoughton, 1944 is just one of those on wood engraving in the shop.

PAUL LANDACRE was born 1893-1963 and his style is quite different from the two above. He was part of the Southern California artistic Renaissance between the world wars. Mostly self taught he is regarded as one of the outstanding print makers of the modern era. He used the finest inks and Japanese papers and, with few exceptions, printed his wood engravings on a 19th century Washington hand press. Flowering Earth by Donald Culross Peattie, Country Book Club, 1951 is the title in the shop.

Come in and have a look at all these simply gorgeous books which also make very good reading. Some are shown as Book of the Month.

February 2, 2020, Broadleaf will be closed for the week beginning 3rd February. Open again Saturday 8th February

If you have books to sell or have any enquiry please email Emails will be looked at daily.

January 29, 2020, CLOSED this Thursday 30th and Friday 31st
January 25, 2020, THE TREE

With trees very much in the news and with many that need to be planted it is wonderful to look back at the older books that were written about the wonder of trees. The following is taken from: Our Woodland Trees by Francis George Heath, published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, London 1878 –

“Nothing in Nature is more wonderful than the relation which exists between the most magnificent growths of the woodlands and the tiny seeds from which they take their origin”.

January 17, 2020, WELCOME TO THE NEW YEAR

Lots of wonderful books have come into the shop just lately. For any fans of P G Wodehouse there are many hardback editions to choose from. For lovers of photography some fine titles are here, including works by Robert Capa, Robert Frank on London/Wales; David Bailey photographing around London (not fashion), Don McCullin, some very early works, and Andre Kertesz – to mention just a few. For admirers of Edward Ardizzone there are a few gems. Also a rather nice hardback edition of The Hobbit in a black slip case and beautifully illustrated copy of Welsh Legends, published by Batsford and illustrated by Ivor Owen with a gorgeous coloured dust jacket. There is so much more but you need to come and have a look for yourself.

A few reminders:

The story telling evening held every first Tuesday of the month from 7-8pm in the shop is going from strength to strength. Anyone is welcome, there is no charge and you can tell a story of just listen. Note: the February evening is being held on the second Tuesday of the month for that month only.

Broadleaf is always looking for good quality, mainly non fiction interesting books so if you are looking to sell any do get in touch to find out if any would be suitable for the shop.


Christmas holiday opening times 10am to 4pm
Closed 25th, 26th, 27th
OPEN Saturday 28th
Closed 30th, 31st, 1st
Open 2 January


Somehow we are once again at the time of Christmas and Broadleaf wishes you have a happy time over the Christmas holiday and that 2020 brings good health. I thank everyone who has supported the shop I love and that I hope brings joy to anyone who visits. So very best wishes from the holly tree that shines its bright green and red on the lower reaches of the Sugarloaf.

October 26, 2019, Books for children

Lovely to have lots of good children’s books in the shop. Some are shown opposite.

September 14, 2019, Abergavenny Food Festival 21st-22nd September

With each autumn comes the annual food festival in town. If you want a quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of street food, demonstrations and talks you will be welcome to browse Broadleaf Books where you will find an eclectic mix of books.

August 16, 2019, Two loyal customers

Two very fine gentlemen forever together who have been visiting the shop since its very early days.

August 5, 2019, BROADLEAF WILL BE CLOSED Wednesday 7th, Thursday 8th and Friday 9th of August.
July 27, 2019, Taking a welcome break on a hot summers day

Some customers are very glad to enjoy the coolness of the shop and show off their new hat!

July 26, 2019, Drovers roads and coaching days

A good collection of books on the days before the motor car when people traveled by foot or horse are now on the shelves ready to be bought! These are fascinating books covering many of the old roads, such as the Exeter Road, Portsmouth Road, Bath Road and the Great North Road. Travel was often precarious but probably full of interest never quite knowing what will be round the next corner. There are books that follow the drovers routes when cattle, sheep, pigs and even ducks and geese would be cajoled across the country to the place they would be sold; the old trackways, many of which can still be followed; and of turnpikes which had powers to collect road tolls for maintaining the principal highways during the 18th and 19th century.

The book opposite is just one example of the old ways of traveling …………… come in and have a look.

July 17, 2019, The wild flower garden at Broadleaf

High summer and the garden is looking as wild as ever. It is full of insects and birds. Bowls of water are put out twice a day for the birds to bathe and drink and it is wonderful to watch them splashing about. There has been quite a bit about the importance of wild flower meadows lately. How many we have lost and how we can all do our bit to restore some of that loss. No matter how small a garden there are always ways to give the pollinators something to feed upon and so keep the circle of life going round. The Broadleaf garden is just for the insects and birds. Going through it is quite tricky at the moment and is bound to disturb something ……………

Broadleaf has a good selection of books on wild flowers; also on insects including bees and bee keeping. Come and have a look who knows what you might find.

June 7, 2019, Broadleaf in the news!

On the 6th June Broadleaf was featured in an excellent article in the Guardian on bookshops! Click here to read about us and other independent booksellers!


The countryside is bursting into life with hedges and trees growing greener by the day. The blossom in gardens and fields is stunning this year with no hard frost to spoil the flowers. First swallow has been seen! So come to Abergavenny, enjoy the walks, enjoy the town, and especially enjoy Broadleaf Books.

March 23, 2019, ART BOOKS: Chinese brush painting, British landscape artists ……………….

Recently bought are a good collection of books on Chinese brush painting. This is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world and involves much the same techniques as calligraphy. The brush is dipped in black ink or coloured pigments. Basic strokes can be learnt very quickly but can require years to master. Broadleaf has some from masters in the field and on how to learn this technique. The Chinese painting book shown opposite is on the painting of Lui-Sang Wong, master of the Ling-nan School and brings Eastern and Western painting styles together.

Also shown opposite is Women of Flowers. Apart from containing beautiful botanical illustrations this book goes back into history when many women who filled books with beautiful botanical works would never dare to put their names to the works, more usually going under the name of ‘anonymous’. Years back a lady’s name was considered sacred and to beheld in strict and pure reverence, certainly not to be used for commercial purposes. The few that rebelled were harshly criticised or only recognised much later. One such was Maria Sibylla Merian who was schooled in painting and engraving and from an early age was fascinated with entomology. She eventually abandoned her husband and took her children to Surinam, South America, to study insects which resulted in the 1705 publication of her landmark three volume Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. Her drawings depicted insects and their host plants, establishing a technique other artists would later imitate. She is just one of many women given recognition in this beautiful and fascinating book.

February 16, 2019, INSECTS IN DECLINE

Much in the news is the fact that insects are fast declining and how catastrophic this is for our planet and the survival of all living beings. It is a truism that the tiniest living creatures are the ones that really matter for earths survival. A book I have long used and treasured is The Natural History of the Garden by Michael Chinery. It was first published way back in 1977. It costs only a few pounds. It’s value lies in all it tells of plants, insects and mammals in our gardens. We can all do things to help wildlife and the rewards are great. The garden of Chinery was far from tidy; weeds were allowed to grow because they were ‘pretty’ or gave food to an insect. He proudly boasted four species of British earwigs! Quite apart from the good insects do they can be fascinating and beautiful to watch for both children and adults.

And did you know that the dung beetle can push 1,141 times it own weight – that’s the equivalent of a human pulling six double decker buses! More than that it pushes the dung ball with its back legs, head down and traveling backwards. Just one fascinating finding about just one insect.

January 5, 2019, HAPPY NEW YEAR

Broadleaf wishes everyone a happy reading new year. There are so many wonderful books to enjoy and the next two months or so are great times to sit in the warmth and read a book. With vegetarianism and veganism steadily growing the books this month give some great recipes.

Just a reminder that Storytelling at Broadleaf Books takes place in the shop every second Tuesday of the month between 7 and 8pm. Tasty stories and food are shared and all are welcome.

December 8, 2018, HAPPY CHRISTMAS

A very happy Christmas and a peaceful and joyful new year. My thanks to Sally Hall for making Broadleaf look so festive with her beautiful wreaths. She will be in the Farmers Market, Abergavenny, Thursday 13 December should you wish to buy one or any of her decorative gifts and cards. If you have not yet done your Christmas shopping why not call into the shop and buy books as presents. Broadleaf will be open until 4pm Monday 24 December.

December 8, 2018, HAPPY CHRISTMAS

November 22, 2018, Christmas wreaths and decorations with a difference


Sally Hall is a landscape gardener but also creates very beautiful bunches of flowers as well as selling plants of all sorts. At this time of year it is all about Christmas wreaths and decorations. Her embroidered cards also take on a seasonal touch. Above is a photograph of an indoor wreath wich is currently for sale in the shop. The card in the middle is just one of the cards designed for this time of year. Come and meet her Saturday 1st December and take away some really lovely, quite different and very imaginative gifts. All products are locally grown and individually made by Cut Flower Kitchen.

It is hoped that Sally will have a stall outside the shop on a regular basis throughout the year. So keep an eye on this page.
You can find her on: Email:


The Folio Society publishes very lovely books; finely bound in decorated boards, beautifully illustrated to inside, covering all aspects of history and covering many authors. Somehow holding a finely bound volume heightens the experience and pleasure of reading. They do, of course, also look very fine on any bookshelf. So why not buy one for a friend or member of your family for Christmas. You may love them so much you will also want to buy one for yourself. Broadleaf has quite a good selection just in so come and have a look and solve that problem of what present to buy. Opposite is just a small selection.


The finest, funniest stories of England, Scotland and Wales refreshed for the 21st century as told by Jem Roberts in his new book Tales of Britain will be told at Broadleaf Books on TUESDAY 6TH NOVEMBER FROM 6.30 TO 8PM. THIS IS A FREE EVENT SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES.

Jem is a storyteller, comedian and historian. He is the official biographer of Douglas Adams and Fry and Laurie and wrote official books on Blackadder and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. SO DON’T MISS THIS APPEARANCE.

Each one of the 77 stories to be found in Tales of Britain, published by Unbound, from Dick Whittington to Robin Hood and King Arthur, to heroes who deserve to be better known, like Mollie Whuppie, Bran the Blesssed and Jack O’Kent, has been forged in performance to find the 21st century retelling to grab today’s audience, no matter what their age. These stories enhance Britain’s standing as an island full of ancient story magic and are told to give people a lot of fun.

September 25, 2018, Short holiday

Broadleaf will be closed Wednesday 26th September. Open again Saturday 29th September.

September 25, 2018, Edward Bawden. English painter, illustrator and graphic artist

Broadleaf is always glad to have any book illustrated by Edward Bawden. Opposite is shown a dust jacket of his design. It is typical of how simple but effective his use of two colours set on a plain background could be.
Born in 1903 he was an only child and led a solitary early life drawing and studying nature. An early influence were the drawings of cats by Louis Wain. He grew up to be a major painter, illustrator and graphic artist, perhaps better known for his book covers and posters but he also produced designs for wallpaper, murals, ceramics and lithographic prints. Like his contemporary and friend Eric Ravilious he served as a war artist during the second world war and spent much time in the Middle East where, amongst other works, he made a series of studies of the Marsh Arabs.

From the 1930s through to 1970s he lived in Great Bardfield, Essex and became an important member of Great Bardfield Artists – a group of local artists who exhibited their works in their own homes and which drew thousands of visitors in the mid 1950s. After the death of his wife Charlotte Epton he moved to Saffron Walden where he continued to work until his death in 1989. Their two children Joanna and Richard went on to be artists.

The influence of Bawden on 20th century illustration and design is incalculable. A distinctive voice he worked mainly from observing every day life. Much of his work can be seen at The Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden in Essex.

September 5, 2018, Abergavenny Food Festival time – Celebrating its 20th Year

If you still enjoy finding your recipes and tales about cooking and cookery in books there is quite
a selection to be found at Broadleaf Books. Books on food and recipes from Norway to Istanbul;
Mexico to Greece; from Spain to France and Italy. Food from Thailand, Japan and India – to name
but a few. You will also find cookery writers such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater, Elizabeth David,
Madhur Jeffrey and Heston Blumental. Books on bread making, self sufficiency, growing your own and

If you have had enough of food there are plenty of other books to feed your mind. Come in and have
a look.

August 25, 2018, A SHORT HOLIDAY

Broadleaf will be closed on Wednesday 29 August.
Open again on Tuesday 4 September.

If you want to sell your books or get in touch
emails will be looked at daily.


In these very hot days it has been wonderful to have both the front and the back door to the garden open.
A gentle breeze comes through but also a lovely scent from the garden. The wild flowers have been very
beautiful and still bloom and climb higher and higher as if calling to the sky for rain. Flocks of birds
enjoy its deep cover.

And what about the books. Well there is now quite a good selection of books on archaeology and some rather
tasty cookbooks with recipes from places such as Mexico, Greece, Norway and Puglia. And for the hot summer
days what better than to seek some shade and get lost in some fiction – for adults or children.

June 12, 2018, Butterflies

With our wonderful long summer days and warm sunshine the butterflies and moths are making the most of these times. If you are keen to identify any that you have seen Broadleaf has some good identification guides as well as general books on the subject. Opposite are just two of the many seen whilst out walking.

May 18, 2018, Wildflowers Of The British Isles


With the banks full of Cow Parsley, Bluebells, Violets and Stichwort it seems appropriate to mention a book just in called Wild Flowers Of The British Isles.  Illustrated and written by H Isabel Adams.  Published in two volumes by London Book Company Limited in 1907.  Little is known of this talented artist and botanist but her work is slightly reminiscent of Charles Renie Mackintosh.  There are many full page plates where each plant is placed in its family genealogy; each is beautifully and accurately painted.  It is unusual to find a original of the book and this is a first edition. Most copies can only  be found for sale as ‘print on demand’.  This is when a publisher will reproduce the book by copying the original as and when a customer orders a copy.  This method of printing only developed with the advent of digital technology.

Shown opposite are just two of the many plates within the book.






Some customers always stay fresh in my memory.  One such is Philip Llewellyn.  He would come bowling into the shop with loud hello’s and general welcoming cries.  Always excited to be near his beloved books.  Armfuls of bird books would be bought for they were his passion.  He would read about them, watch them and was also a very gifted artist.  He would bring me works he had done of birds, miners, and sometimes works on religious themes.  I still proudly own a painting of a purple horse and a Peregrine Falcon in colours of vibrant pink.

Philip suffered from schizophrenia which, it is believed, began when he was out in Africa when quite a young man.  He was appalled at the way the blacks were treated and reversed that trend by always looking after them in a caring and kind way.  This in turn upset the whites who behaved badly towards him.  For all the time I knew him he was in a nearby care home.  I vividly remember the day he came in to tell me he was being moved further north.  We were both deeply upset about this, knowing his visits would now be scarce.  But, apart from this one time he was always cheerful, always full of stories of the birds he had seen, always caring and interested about me and my family.  His presence in the shop is much missed.  Though, I am pleased to say that his spirit lives on in the many books I have bought back from a relative who kindly brought them in the other day.

In memory of Philip his book of the Peregrine Falcon is shown opposite.





April 16, 2018, SHORT HOLIDAY


Broadleaf is in need of a short holiday.  The shop will be CLOSED                                    From:  WEDNESDAY 18 APRIL TO TUESDAY 24 APRIL

Emails will be looked at daily so do get in touch if you want.




March 31, 2018,








With birds’ eggs soon to be laid and Easter eggs soon to be eaten it seems an appropriate time to mention books on the subject of eggs laid by birds.  Just in is a magnificent book The Book of Eggs.  A Lifesize Guide To The Eggs Of Six Hundred Of The World’s Bird Species by Mark E Hauber.  Editors John Bates and Barbara Beckner. Published by Ivy Press 2014.  Organized by habitat and taxonomy, the entries include photographs that show each egg in full colour and at actual size, as well as distribution maps and drawings and descriptions of the birds and their nests or incubation strategies.


And, if you have ever wondered how birds lay such beautifully coloured and patterned eggs, of different sizes and shapes and each with distinctive markings you could do no better than to read The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg by Tim Birkhead.  Published by Bloomsbury 2016.  The variation and beauty of these eggs is truly stunning and remarkable.


January 13, 2018, ART BOOKS


Broadleaf recently bought some interesting art books to add to its already good sized, broad ranging art collection.  Come in and have a look.

One of the books just in is particularly interesting in that it encompasses both art and photography, the photographer being Emmy Andriesse who is as interesting as the book itself.  Emmy Andriesse, was a Dutch photographer, 1914-1953, best known for her work with the Underground Camera group (De Ondergedoken Camera) during World War 11.  She was forced into hiding as a Jew during the Nazi occupation but in 1944, with the help of an anthropologist, she forged an identity card and was able to re-engage in everyday life.  She joined a group of photographers working clandestinely and under extremely difficult conditions took a series of photographs showing the misery, hunger and poverty suffered during the occupation.  The book shown opposite: The World of van Gogh was her last commission and which she was not able to complete, suffering from a long illness of cancer she died aged 39.  In this work she takes very fine photographs of scenes painted by van Gogh; these are accompanied by short extracts from letters of the artist.

December 23, 2017, MERRY CHRISTMAS . The Copper Family’s Christmas Song


The trees are all bare                                                                                                          Not a leaf to be seen                                                                                                         And the meadows their beauty have lost.                                                                            Now winter has come                                                                                                          and ’tis cold for man and beast,                                                                                           And the streams they are,                                                                                                   And the streams they are                                                                                                    All fast bound down with the frost.


Twas down in the farmyard where the oxen feed on straw,                                                They send forth their breath like the steam,                                                                        Sweet Betsy the milkmaid now quickly she must go,                                                          For the flakes of ice she finds,                                                                                             For the flakes of ice she finds a-floating on her cream.


‘Tis now all the small birds                                                                                                   to the barn-door fly for food                                                                                                 And gently they rest on the spray.                                                                                       A-down the plantation                                                                                                          the hares do search for food,                                                                                               And lift their footsteps sure,                                                                                                 Lift their footsteps sure                                                                                                        for fear they do betray.


Now Christmas is come and our song is almost done                                                         For we soon shall have the turn of the year                                                                        So fill up your glasses and let your health go round,                                                           For I wish you all,                                                                                                                 For I wish you all a joyful New Year.



December 9, 2017, HAVE YOU BOOKS TO SELL?



Broadleaf is always looking for good quality, interesting, non fiction books to buy.  If you have any to sell do get in touch.



The next storytelling for children is THE CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD BUS


To take place at Broadleaf Books on Saturday 16th December at 4.30pm.  This is a free event with donations going to the Food Bank.


The image opposite is of Prince Sprite and comes from Fairy Tales by The Countess D’Aulnov.  Translated by J R Planche.  Published by George Routledge and Sons 1888


STORYTELLING FOR ADULTS continues to be held at Broadleaf Books every first Tuesday of the month.  All are welcome.  The stories told by all comers continue to get more and more amazing.




November 17, 2017, Meet the NOT FOR MEAT SHEEP


Broadleaf Books is proud to sell wool from the very beautiful Garn-Clochdy Hebridean Sheep belonging to Steve Smith the Vegetarian Shepherd.  Steve has kept his flock for some years simply for the love of them.   Now he is trying to make them earn some keep and is selling their wonderfully warm and beautiful looking wool.  This is currently priced at £12.99 a skein.  Demand is high so orders need to be placed soon.  If you would like to buy some you can either contact Steve direct at: or through Broadleaf Books.  Steve will be launching a web site in the next few weeks.  He is also planning to take small groups of people around his flock to explain their history and future.  Hopefully others will be enthused to keep sheep in a similar way and learn from Steve how this can be achieved to the happiness of both sheep and owner. 


November 10, 2017, GARDENING BOOKS


It has been so warm of late that many flowers are still giving the gardens beautiful colours and the late butterflies nectar.  Nasturtiums are having a wonderful long season and wander across the garden giving flashes of brilliant colour.  As the colder weather is bound to come many people use the time to plan for the next season of gardening and get out the books to browse and dream.  The older gardening books are written almost like novels or autobiographies with the writer reminiscing about past times or old acquaintances, be they plant or person.   For instance the author E A Bowles who wrote the book opposite remembers how he went into the garden ‘to try and forget a raging toothache’ and nearly succeeded when he caught site of a Tom crocus seedling: ‘a rosy-hued one with the addition of nearly white tips to each segment, and under each white mark a spot of violet-purple..’

On another occasion he writes of Lady’s Mantle and how it is ‘the leaves, not the flowers, that are the notable feature … of a very tender shade of greyish  green, and covered with fine, silky hairs, which help their cup-like shape to hold raindrops which glitter like drops of quicksilver’.  The garden is as beautifully described as any character in a novel and gardening is woven into the story.  The information given may not be as direct as that in new garden books but a more rounded and memorable impression is left in the mind.

Many of the older books often have very beautifully illustrated boards with  fine botanical illustrations.  The book opposite fits all of these descriptions.  My Garden In Autumn and Winter by E A Bowles comes as a set of three.  The other two being My Garden in Spring and My Garden in Summer.  Also shown is just one of the illustrations showing Darwin Tulips.





September 17, 2017, SHOP CLOSED WEEK OF 19TH



Broadleaf Books will be closed from Tuesday 19th to Wednesday 27th for a short holiday.  Emails will be checked regularly.




Tuck into stories from Wales and beyond with Alison Newsam on Saturday 16 September 3-4pm at Broadleaf Books.  Alison is an experienced storyteller who works at schools in the surrounding area.  Suitable for all over 5 years of age.  A free event with contributions very welcome. 




August 5, 2017, Book buys


During my week off I had two very good book buys.  One brought into the shop books on buddhism, mind, body and spiritualism as well as self help.  Also nature writing, ecology and finding yourself through flying.  Some interesting fiction and a large collection of Virago classics.  This is a wonderfully interesting and eclectic mix of books.


The other buy was quite different.  The shop now has quite a collection of French history, from anarchism to peasant life;  women’s lives at war and at work;  the resistance and life under occupation and many other topics.  Also bought were titles on British labour history and politics as well as general titles on history.  Also a whole pile of books written in French for any of you out there who speak the language!

Come and have a look ……………………



July 18, 2017, Weeks holiday for Broadleaf



The shop will be closed from Wednesday 19 July and open again Tuesday 25 July.  Emails will be checked daily so contact: for any queries.



The next evening of story telling for children is Saturday 1 July 5-6pm at Broadleaf Books and will be celebrating the summer solstice.  As on previous occasions Alison Newsam will be telling stories and Helen Cotterill will be helping the children make their own story to take away.  All art materials are provided.  A free event with contributions welcome.  If you have any queries just email Broadleaf Books.




Towards the end of last year access was gained to the bookshops back garden.  It was a rather lovely wilderness but not one that could be walked through with brambles and buddleia sky high – as the first photograph below shows.  By February of this year it was cleared with many buddleia being kept but pruned.  This is shown in the second photograph.  It was planted with annual wildflowers and an assortment of plants that kept coming through the door from customers and neighbours.  There is a small pond, which one customer found totally inadequate and has promised to come back and make one that will be much better – so it is still very much work in progress.  There is also just about enough room to sit out amongst all the amazingly fast growth.  It is open to anyone who wants to come and sit in a very quiet walled garden, maybe read a book or bring their coffee.





Those who came to Artful Stories much enjoyed working with Helen Cotterill and listening to how she works.  Each went away with a book they made themselves.  Here they are enjoying tea and chocolate.


April 7, 2017, ABERGAVENNY WRITING FESTIVAL: Events at Broadleaf Books


This is the second Abergavenny Writing Festival and is held on Thursday 20 April to Saturday 22 April.  Late afternoon events will be held at Broadleaf Books each day.

THURSDAY 20:  4-5pm. Stories for Children to Take Away with storyteller Alison Newsam.  Alison is an experienced storyteller and works with children in schools.  She will help the children to make up their own story to take away, as well as tell some stories.  £5

FRIDAY 21 and SATURDAY 22: 4-5.30pm. Artful Stories with Helen Cotterill.  Helen will help people explore ways of using textiles, paper and images to create a story of their own.  She is a textile artist and writer who trained with Dr C P Estes, author of Women Who Run With Wolves,  and facilitates workshops to help others discover their innate creative hand and voice.   £5

All bookings are through the Abergavenny Writing Festival web site.  If you have any problems contact Broadleaf Books.







Broadleaf Books plans to hold storytelling throughout this year to celebrate each equinox.  The first of these to mark the spring equinox will be held on Saturday 18 March between 5-6.30pm.  As with the last event held last christmas Alison Newsam and Helen Cotterill will be here to tell stories and help children create their own stories with art materials.  Space is limited so contacting Broadleaf soon would be wise to ensure a place.  The event is free with donations for the helpers very much appreciated.


Broadleaf is also holding events on all three evenings of The Writing Festival.  The first on Thursday 20 April is for children with the following two on 22 and 23 April being for adults.  All events will be publicised on the Abergavenny Writing Festival web site as well as in a small publication to be issued nearer the time.  They will also be posted on Broadleaf’s web site at the beginning of April.


Broadleaf holds a variety of children’s books.  The one opposite is so beautifully illustrated by Roger Duvoisin and told by Louise Fatio.

February 22, 2017, Books of local interest, Welsh history


Broadleaf holds a good selection of Welsh history books.  The image opposite is taken from Welsh Rural Life in Photographs by Elfyn Scourfield and published by Stewart Williams in 1979.  It is not particular uncommon but the images are particular touching and historically interesting.  The image opposite is of farm workers at Ty Gwyn, Pentrellyncymer, Clwys, early 20th century and is rather endearing with all the family present with the sheep given a kindly arm around its shoulders.

Just to mention one other title, amongst the many, which has just come in is Tramroads of the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal by Gordon Rattenbury.  Published in 1980 by Railway and Canal Historical Society.  With black and white photographs and route maps.  Come in and have a look!



Broadleaf has recently been lucky enough to find some wonderful art and photography books.  Some can be seen opposite but you will find many more by visiting the shop.

January 22, 2017, CLOSED FOR SHORT BREAK



The shop will be closed until Wednesday 1st February.




A very late happy new year to everyone.  It is a wonderful time of year with many trees showing bud, bulbs showing tips and all plants about to awaken.  Broadleaf recently gained access to its back garden.  It had been neglected for years and choked with tall brambles and undergrowth.  Now cleared so that the very charming walled garden is revealed planning and planting can begin this spring.  A very exciting prospect and a wonderful asset for the bookshop.  A lot of people look to the internet for gardening information but for more thoughtful and in depth knowledge books are invaluable.  The book shown opposite is just one such book.  It has given me much inspiration for my new garden.



A wonderful evening of storytelling and making Christmas decorations was enjoyed by all who came on 10th December.  Alison told some great stories by candlelight and then it was lights up for Helen and friends to assist the children who made some very creative and original decorations.  The evening was such a success that Broadleaf will endeavour to hold four such evenings a year, each celebrating a different season.  Photographs of the evening are shown opposite.




Come to Broadleaf Books on Saturday 10th December 5-6.30pm.  Enjoy some seasonal stories told by Alison Newsam and Helen Cotterill.  You can also make puppets with all materials supplied.  The event is free with a small donation requested to help cover the costs.  Suitable for all children of 12 years or under.  Space is limited so contact Broadleaf Books as soon as possible.

November 5, 2016, PUFFIN PICTURE BOOKS



Puffin Picture Books were created in 1940 by Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books, and Noel Carrington, editor and producer of books for Country Life.  Carrington came up with the idea of publishing a series of well illustrated  books for children that would explain the natural and man made environment, geography and recreation.  Nothing existed at the time that linked these together.  Lane immediately saw the potential and with a very careful eye on cost the series was launched.


Art work was most important to Carrington and he was inspired by posters then commissioned by London Transport.  He also looked to artists who were working using a low-cost but evocative printing technique called autholithography.  Here the artist drew or traced with a brush and pen directly onto a zinc plate.  This technique was being used in the Soviet Union to mass produce brightly coloured children’s books.  Nearer to home it was used by the now famous author and artist of Orlando the Cat, Kathleen Hale.


The first titles appeared in December 1940 and explained aspects of the war.  Thirteen titles were published in two years, a remarkable achievement given the shortage of paper.  Many of the titles explained the natural world to help children who had been evacuated to the countryside from the cities.  The illustrations were stunning and raised the standard of children’s books both in their artwork and their educational content.

The title shown opposite: Farm Crops in Britain by Sir George Stapledon is very beautifully illustrated by S R Badmin and can still be used today by children and adults as a reminder of the value of crop rotation and use of land.



October 1, 2016, A reminder of STORY TELLING : FAIRY TALES


A reminder that story telling will take place every first Tuesday of the month.  Now the light is getting shorter it is a wonderful time to sit round and listen to tales of long ago.  This is a free event with all welcome.  The details are below in the August posting.

With this in mind a book just in is an 1888 edition of FAIRY TALES by The Countess D’Aulnoy.  Translated by J.R. Planche with sixty illustrations by Gordon Browne.  An image from the book is opposite.  Whilst these stories have delighted young and old for  hundreds of years they are presented here for the first time to the British reader in their “integrity”.

Come in and have a look at it, or the many other inviting titles.  After all, Christmas is fast approaching and what better gift can you give than a book!






Story telling pre-dates writing as a way of sharing and interpreting experiences and of passing on knowledge.  By being told over and over again values are passed down through generations to shape communities.  It is an art that simply requires a voice.  Broadleaf is delighted to give space for that voice.

Stories will be told every first Tuesday of the month starting on TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER between 7-8pm at Broadleaf Books.  Simply turn up, admission is free.




Opposite is an illustration by Fleur Cowles for a book called Tiger Flower – a tale by Robert Vavra with a preface by  Yehudi Menuhin.  It was published in 1968 and the original paintings were hung on the walls of eminent collectors all over the world.  The book appeals to anyone blessed with fantasy and imagination and who is eager to hear a good story ………………



July 30, 2016, THE OPENING NIGHT OF JEFF NUTTALL EXHIBITION. A more than full house!



The opening night of this exhibition filled the shop beyond capacity with people having to stand outside on the pavement.  The saxophone player, Lyndon Davies, played brilliantly improvising over a tape Jeff made of industrial sounds.  The readings by Jane Blank, Ann Drysdale, Ivor Davies and Adam Horovitz did full justice to the voice of Jeff Nuttall.  The very beautiful structure made by Melissa Appleton and displaying some rare works sits well in the front of the bookshop and was admired by many.  It will be up until Saturday 6th August.  Well worth a look if you can call in.  Opposite are images of the structure and of Lyndon, Jane, Ann and Adam.






QUITE SUDDENLY YOUR SMILE IS AN ARCHITECTURE.   An exhibition of the poetry and publishing of Jeff Nuttall brought together within a sculptural environment.

OPENING EVENT: Friday 29 July, 6.30-9pm.  Readings, recordings, music and recitals with Jane Blank, Ann Drysdale, Lyndon Davies, Sam Hasler, Adam Horovitz, Jill Richards.

EXHIBITION DATES:  Saturday 30 July – Saturday 6 August  10am – 5pm.






QUITE SUDDENLY YOUR SMILE IS AN ARCHITECTURE.  An exhibition of the poetry and publishings of Jeff Nuttall

To be held at Broadleaf Books on Saturday 30 July to Saturday 6 August 10-5pm with the OPENING EVENT on Friday 29 July 6.30 – 9pm.  Readings to be given by Jane Blank, Ann Drysdale, Ivor Davies, Adam Horovitz, Jill Richards,  others to be announced.


This exhibition brings together the publications of late artist Jeff Nuttall (1933-2004) and includes poetry, novels, pamphlets and experimental projects.  Much of this work has been overlooked, yet Nuttall was a prolific and influential writer perhaps best known for his seminal 1968 text Bomb Culture.  He worked tirelessly across poetry, publishing, sculpture and painting, as well as instigating early performance art and ‘happenings’ in the UK.  Included in the exhibition will be the now very scarce My Own Mag and Knuckleduster Funnies.  Also to be shown are a few drawings and small paintings which relate to the nearby Black Mountains and Herefordshire regions, distinct geographies in Nuttall’s life and source of his lifelong fascination with the interrelationship of body and landscape.


The exhibition is being brought together by artist, Melissa Appleton with the support of Joanna Chambers of Broadleaf Books.  Below is shown the exhibition flyer showing images of Jeff Nuttall, entitled:  The Andrea Summers Affair, photography Oly Aldridge.








Broadleaf recently acquired a very beautiful six volume set of The Fruit Grower’s Guide by John Wright.  Illustrated with eight full page stunning botanical illustrations of different fruits by Miss May River.  These appear to the front of each volume with tissue guards.  There are also many illustrative diagrams throughout by Worthington Smith and George Shayler.  There is no date of publication but this would be around 1890.  Apart from being wonderful to look at for their illustrations they are also hugely informative.  To the back of Volume 11 under the heading Apples Suited to Different Parts of GB and Ireland, well over 100 varieties are listed for each region!  Different varieties were grown so that apples could be eaten fresh throughout the year.  Hundreds of these are now no longer grown.  This is only too obvious when you go to buy apples and are given a choice of three or four different names at the most.  On the positive side there are now many people who are planting the old favourites.  A couple came into the shop only this week and said they have planted over twenty different varieties which feed them all through the year.  Wonderful!

Opposite is shown just one of the fine botanical illustrations from The Fruit Grower’s Guide together with Welsh Marches Pomana by Michael Porter with botanical illustrations by Margaret Gill.  The book gives thirty one varieties of apples originating from the Welsh Marches.



May 11, 2016, ABERJABBER The young storytellers of Abergavenny


ABBERJABBER the young storytellers of Abergavenny are holding a story telling evening on FRIDAY 10 JUNE between 6-7pm at The Cabin of Curiosities, Fig Tree Espress café,  16 Nevill Street,  Abergavenny.

The Cabin is at the back of the café garden.   The event is suitable for anyone over 7 years of age and their parents.   Entrance is free.

Hosted by Daniel Morden, international story teller and by Joanna Chambers of Broadleaf Books, 16 Monk Street, Abergavenny.  Enquiries to Broadleaf Books 01873 857127






The first Abergavenny Writing Festival takes place from 21st April to 23rd April.  Broadleaf Books is hosting an event on Thursday 21st April from 6-7pm.  For details of all events look up


The event at Broadleaf Books is under the heading:  Bookshops Confidential

“A good bookshop is a secret weapon in the writer’s armoury:  as a source of inspiration and ideas, a resource for research and a place of refuge.  Poet and novelist Jane Blank and travel writer Jack Thurston share their love of bookshops with Joanna Chambers owner of Broadleaf Books, possibly the best little secondhand bookshop you are ever likely to find”


Tickets cost  £5.00 with a glass of wine included and can be booked on line.  There are many other fantastic events taking place which cater for all age groups so do have a look at the web site and join in the fun.


March 18, 2016, POP-UP BOOKS

Just in this week are some really fabulous pop-up books.  They range from books on creepy crawlys, bugs, oceans and exploration on land and through space to monsters, knights, battles and Spiderman.  Images shown opposite speak for themselves;  the bear pop up comes from Playful Planet Pop-Up Fun which has stunning animal pop-ups with short verses alongside.







Broadleaf was fortunate recently to acquire some books by wildlife artists, one of these being Raymond Harris-Ching.  Born in New Zealand it was in his early years that on a school trip to a museum, he chanced upon a collection of stuffed humming birds.  They so enthralled him with their beauty that they inspired a life long fascination with birds, feathers and flight.  He was discovered internationally by Sir William Collins of Collins publishing.  Collins was a keen ornithologist and had been looking for an artist to illustrate a ground breaking book on the birds of Britain.  Having assessed and rejected any number of bird artists, none of whom had the style and drama that would appeal to those who had never picked up a field guide in their lives, the publishers were about to give up when Raymond appeared on the scene.  Deeply impressed by his originality they commissioned him to  paint 230 full colour portraits of birds.  They had thought it would take six years and require several artists;  Raymond said he would do it in one year on his own.  A task that he did complete but that left him ill, exhausted and penniless.  Published in 1969 this guide, The Readers Digest Book of British Birds became one of the worlds most successful and biggest selling bird books and is still in print today.

During this time and after Ray lived in England.  He works with oils or watercolour, usually on a gessoed masonite panel or canvas, which assists in the high detail.  His works are highly sought after and fetch six figures.  In 1999 he designed a British postal stamp called Darwin’s theory as part of a series on famous British scientists.  But it is his love of birds and the desire to paint them, especially in flight, that is his passion.  His book Wild Portraits is shown opposite, along with The Art of Robert Bateman who is a much respected Canadian naturalist and painter.  Also shown is just one of the fabulous paintings done by Ray of rabbits.


January 7, 2016, SEEING GARDENS


January is one of the times to think ahead to the spring and summer and how our gardens will look.  The photographer Sam Abell has a very special eye and a subtle sensibility for gardens in the widest sense.  To Abell a scattering of pears ripening on a Moscow windowsill evokes an orchard just as surely as his portrait of a 600 year old Japanese garden summons up an ancient tradition of artfully cultivated wildness.  His recollections and aesthetic philosophy amount to a telling memoir of Abell’s years of interpreting gardens.

His photographs include planned gardens in a variety of cultural settings;  found gardens, created by nature but given form by the artist’s frame and the many allusions to gardens in daily life.  References to gardens are all around us, we just have to see them.  Some images from the book are shown opposite.

Seeing Gardens by Sam Abell.  Published by the National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. 2000.

December 10, 2015, HAPPY CHRISTMAS


A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS to you.  May the year ahead be joyous and peaceful.  May you have time over the holiday to stay snug in bed and catch up with some reading.  Like Emilina Hedgehog who appears in Peter Weevers The Christmas Fox and other winter poems.


Broadleaf has a good collection of children’s story books – though many are enjoyed by adults just as much.  Shown opposite is a very early Ladybird book, first published in 1941 this is a third edition, 1943.  The title is Bob Bushtail’s Adventure.  A Story in Verse for Children with Illustrations in Colour.  A.J. Macgregor was the author and illustrator.  This wonderful series of books celebrated their 100 year anniversary this year.  They still bring pleasure to children and adults alike.


November 4, 2015, Display of book marginalia/notations


Annotation, marginalia, notations or simply scribbling in books – call it what you will but the marking of books in pencil or ink has been going on since books were first published.  For the bookseller, if the book might have fetched a reasonable price,  such notation or inscription devalues the book.  Unless, of course, a very early set of Dickens turns up with the famous authors’ notes to the margins.  Such a set did recently fall into a booksellers hands and should they ever be sold would undoubtedly be worth a very large amount of money.  Books scribbled in by lesser mortals are just a booksellers nightmare.


Some customers are often delighted when they find marked books as it adds a whole new dimension and can be very informative.  Such books could also be seen, as in the case of some that Broadleaf recently bought, as quite an art.  The book photographed below shows its past owner frantically interacting with the author, T S Eliot.  Every page is so heavily marked that Eliot’s words become almost lost.


Broadleaf is choosing to see marginalia as a fascinating and interesting art form and will be having an ongoing display in the shop.


It seems the idea has also taken root at the John C Hodges Library, University of Tennessee where an exhibition of marginality is currently being held.  It includes examples of note taking, marks of ownership and presentation inscriptions, family genealogy and ‘doodles’.  Some of these centuries old books have detailed indexing to the endpapers – this was before publishers indexed – and added pages for notes.  Should you be in the USA the exhibition runs through to December 11th.  Monday to Friday 9am – 5.30pm.   (With thanks to Sheppard’s Newsletter No. 438 for drawing reporting on this exhibition).


Below is Broadleaf’s copy of Selected Poems by T S Eliot, heavily annotated.



October 9, 2015, Books on Buddhism


A good collection of books on and about Buddhism have recently been acquired by Broadleaf.  Do come in and have a look and maybe buy one or two.

October 8, 2015, National Poetry Day. John Clare



John Clare was one of the finest nature poets that England produced.  In addition to his fine nature poems he wrote some of the best love poetry in the language, some superb narrative poems and enough excellent prose to prove that he was a genuine, determined writer who believed he had been chosen to write about a landscape and its people as no one else could.  Here are some lines from The Last Autumn.  Hopefully they will encourage further reading of his life and of his work.

“Come bleak November in thy wildness come                                                              Thy mornings clothed in rime thy evenings chill                                                           E’en these have power to tempt me from my home                                                         E’en these have beauty to delight me still ….                                                               Though naked fields hang lonely on the view                                                              Long lost to harvest and its busy scenes                                                                         Yet in the distance shines the painted bough                                                                    Leaves changed to every colour ere they die ….                                                               A wild confusion hangs upon the ear                                                                               And something half romantic meets the view                                                                   Arches half-fill’d with wither’d leaves appear                                                                 Where white foam stills the billows boiling through     ”




October 3, 2015,


The shops very successful art exhibition made me think about using the space in the bookshop in different ways.  Opening shelves up to include the occasional painting or to display books better was just one of the ways, as shown below.


Recently quite a few of the original orange and white Penguin books have found their way into the shop.  First published in the 1930s these small books revolutionised publishing and reading.  Produced so they could be bought very cheaply they were incredibly successful, thereby proving a large audience existed for good literature.  It is hard to think of a better designed book which slips so easily into the pocket.  They remain a very good seller.  A few are shown on the opposite page.





August 14, 2015, Food, an exhibition at Broadleaf Books, September 18-20th
Mustafa Hulusi, Fig (Turkish), 2007. Image courtesy of the artist



For this exhibition Melissa Appleton and Edwin Burdis have worked with Joanna Chambers of Broadleaf Books to bring together a diverse and playful selection of works, including painting, sculpture, print and sound which explores our complex relationship to food, its production and consumption.

Artists featured Bedwyr Williams, who lives and works in Caernarfon and represented Wales at the 55th Biennale Di Venezia 2013

Clare Woods, based in Herefordshire who, as well as exhibiting extensively across Europe, completed a major commission for the Olympic Park 2012

Mark Leckey, recipient of the Turner Prize 2008

Mustafa Hulusi, Turkish Cypriot artist who lives and works between London and Cyprus

Sean Edwards, based in Abergavenny who exhibits widely throughout the UK and Europe and received the Gold Medal in visual arts at the 2014 National Eisteddfod

Other artists in the exhibition include, Katherine Gardener, S Mark Gubb, Andy Holden, Rosie Head, Heather Phillipson, Natasha Rees and Tom Woolner.

There will be a private view on Friday 18 September from 6-8pm in Broadleaf Books.  All are welcome.  Please rsvp to



August 5, 2015, SHELLS



A rather beautiful book on shells has recently found its way into Broadleaf Books.  Classic Natural History Prints: Shells by S. Peter Dance and David Heppell is published by Studio Editions.  The book brings together a fantastic selection of colour plates portraying many of the delicate and enchanting creatures of the molluscan  world.  Comprising the second largest group in the animal kingdom, there is huge diversity amongst them.  This comprehensive collection of prints includes examples from most groups of molluscs, including sea slugs and squids.  Moreover, it spans two centuries, covering all the different styles of those who have illustrated them in colour.  The colour plates are full page and some are shown opposite.


Coincidentally as I was taking photographs of the book for this site I listened to Radio 4’s Book of the Week which is Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells by Helen Scales.  A fascinating story of the authors’ love of shells from an early age.




July 25, 2015, The Rose


As we enter into the heart of summer one of the loveliest scents must come from the rose.  How right James Joyce was when he wrote in Ulysses: “I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses”.  I felt like I was swimming in rose books this week when a young Australian brought his aunt’s collection of rose books into the shop.  One of the most beautiful of these is opposite.  They are still being browsed with much interest and delight.  Come and visit to take a look at them, and many other gardening books, for yourself.



June 6, 2015,




Apologise for the small print.  This reads:    ABERJABBER is a group of young storytellers based in Abergavenny.  The evening is suitable for anyone over seven years of age.  It is hosted by international storyteller, Daniel Morden and Joanna Chambers of Broadleaf Books.  Entrance is free with all donations going towards Nepal Earthquake Appeal.  For any further information contact: Daniel Morden 07717481071.  Joanna Chambers, Broadleaf Books 01873857127.

The Cabin is partly run by Broadleaf Books and has a selection of gardening books as well as many vintage items.  It is set in The Fig Tree Espresso’s very beautiful garden.  Images of both are shown opposite.



May 4, 2015, Norman Thelwell


As part of Broadleaf’s collection of art books cartoonists are especially treasured.  Norman Thelwell, always known as Thelwell, is particularly loved.  Although his chubby mischievous ponies are probably best known he also took on the hobbies of fishing, gardening, sailing, dogs, cats, farming, motoring, children and English country life.  A fine draughtsman, giving much attention to detail, he placed his subjects in natural settings.  A very good landscape artist, using both watercolour and oils, he produced book dust jackets, worked for television and drew for advertising.  He was also a sharp social commentator with a ‘zany humour’.


Born in 1923 in Tranmere, Cheshire he was the son of a machinist.  Locally educated drawing came naturally and he sold his first painting of chickens when he was 15 years old.  It was whilst serving in the army that as Art Editor of an army publication he had his first cartoons published in a London magazine Opinion and soon made a small but regular income.  After the war he studied at Liverpool College of Art and with another local artist became involved with The Anvil, the parish magazine run by Reverend Marcus Morris, which was the forerunner of The Eagle.


In 1952 his first cartoon for Punch was published.  The relationship was to last 25 years during which 1,500 of his cartoons were published.  It was here that the ‘Thelwell pony’ was born.  One day he submitted a pony drawing and it was like “hitting a sensitive nerve”.  The editors telephone rang constantly with requests for more pony cartoons and Thelwell was flooded with fan mail.  To many it seemed that it was in the pony club girls and their ponies that he found his true comic niche.


By 1956 he was able to give up teaching design and illustration and devote himself full-time to his own work.  His first book Angels on Horseback was published in 1957.  Many followed.   He had a strong love of the countryside which was fostered by childhood visits to a farm in North Wales.  For 35 years he lived with his wife and children beside the river at Timsbury, Hampshire.  Here he gradually restored the farmhouse and landscaped the grounds.  This gave rise to his first factual book: A Plank Bridge by a Pool.  He also had a love of old buildings and in his autobiography, Wrestling With a Pencil, wrote of his joy in the beauty of old cottages.


Thelwell told an interviewer in 1965: “I’m more interested in the social than the political side of life … I have no axes to grind and no torches to bear.  I just hope that my drawings provide pleasant entertainment”.  He died in 2004 aged 80.

Broadleaf currently has quite a few of his titles in stock.



April 2, 2015, Books for children


Spring is in the air.  Soon cuckoo and swallow will be with us and so will many other migratory birds who travel thousands of miles to nest here.  How they arrive to the exact place of their breeding is still one of the great mysteries of the natural world.  Not so mysterious but of great excitement for the young is Easter holiday time;  a good time to remind customers that Broadleaf keeps a small collection of books for children.  Many have been long favourites but those illustrated by Alan Aldridge have given particular pleasure.


Aldridge is famous for a great many album covers in the 1960s and 1970s and made a big impression with the Beatles Illustrated Song Lyrics.  But, he is possibly even better known for his book illustrations, notably The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast (1973) and its sequel The Peacock Party (1979).  An Invitation from Alan Aldridge with Harry Willock and George E Ryder.   Opposite is shown the illustration for Sir Percival Peacock Proposes A Party.  Followed by The Amorous Adventures Of Colonel Ruddy-Fowl Stork, Of Stork Hall, Storkshire.  The verses that accompany these wonderfully imaginative illustrations are equally good.

March 5, 2015, Angus McBean photographer and mask maker


When Angus McBean opened his first photographic studio in 1935 his credit stamp read: ‘photographer and mask maker’.  When you read about McBean’s early years his first work as a theatre designer and mask maker become evident in his brilliantly  innovate photographs.

McBean was a local boy to Abergavenny.  Born in 1904 he was educated at Monmouth Grammar School and at Newport Technical college – as it then was.  His first introduction to theatre came when he was involved in an amateur production at the Lyceum Theatre in Monmouthshire.  After the death of his father from tuberculosis while in the trenches McBean moved to London with his mother and sister.  He worked as a  salesman at Liberty’s for seven rather grinding years and after his dismissal decided to reject restrictions and conformity.  His mother took to the roads in a caravan and McBean struck out to only work at what interested him – the theatre and photography.  Through contacts made he found himself designing theatre sets and, breaking with tradition, used lighting in a new and creative way; taking close-up photographs, for which he used his own studio lights and so revolutionized the approach to photographing plays by creating a more intimate tableaux.  His stage photographs began to make regular appearances in The Sketch and The Tatler, the two leading quality magazines of the time.  His reputation was established with a series of ‘Surrealist Portraits’ when The Sketch devoted major coverage to the International Surrealist exhibitions in London in 1936 and 1937.  During the blitz McBean moved his studio to Bath.  It was here that his home was raided which led to an investigation of his homosexual life-style.  After a trial he was imprisoned for four years.

The years after the war were probably his most creative.  His portraiture of the famous and glamorous stars was only one aspect of his world.  The main part was his stage-production pictures.  And when the stage door closed slightly in the late 1950s there was a newly emergent market for his skills in the production of photographs for record sleeves.  This took him into the world of colour photography which he found uncomfortable at first but found ways to exploit its possibilities.  His crowning moment in pop history came when he had two sessions with The Beatles – one resulting in the album sleeve for Please Please Me, 1963.

Asked, towards the end of his life, what he thought was so special about his work McBean found it hard to reply but thought part of the success with the subjects of his portraits was that they trusted him and he had ‘a good photographic manner’.  He worked hard for success and enjoyed it chiefly because of all the illustrious people he met.  Unlike many of those who work with the rich and famous he was genuinely star-struck and was never heard to speak ill of them – to him they were all adorable.  In spite of his success he remained mysteriously modest.  In a tribute written by Quentin Crisp for The Times Saturday Review in 1991, shortly after McBean’s death he summised:

“He played that life was happy; that all women were lovely…. he played that love was everywhere.  This philosophy made him delightful to be with, impossible to talk to and infinitely sad”.





February 12, 2015, VALENTINES DAY



There can only be one book for mid February.


Spring is so nearly here – wonderful!




January 18, 2015, Travel books of the 1950’s


Traveling nearly seventy years ago was usually much more of an adventurer than traveling today.  At a time of year when journeying, whether for sun or for adventure, is much on people’s minds Broadleaf took down some of the books from its shelves which have rather lovely dust jacket’s and which tell some remarkable stories.

Out Of This World: Across The Himalayas To Tibet by Lowell Thomas Jr. (the son of Lowell Thomas who became well known through his meeting and photographing T E Lawrence – then a Captain in the British Army in Jerusalem around 1918).  The book was published in 1952 and tells how he and his father travelled through Tibet to reach the capital Lhasa at a time when the country was virtually closed to Westerners.  They were lucky to receive an invitation to visit.  What they saw and the people they met amazed them and their sense of wonder is passed on to the reader.  The author recalls that the first western woman to reach Lhasa (The Forbidden City) was a woman called Madame David-Neel – a remarkable French woman who had a deep knowledge of the countries culture and language.  Four times she journeyed through Tibet to get to Lhasa and each time was sent back before she could reach the capital as she had not been officially invited.  Determined to reach her goal she tried again and this time disguised herself as a poor religious pilgrim in shabby Tibetan dress.  Living on a scanty diet and sleeping sometimes in the open snow with a tent wrapped around her for warmth – to put it up may have given herself away – she somehow managed to reach the capital.  It all makes for a good read.


The second book shown is Beyond The Reefs by William Travis, published in 1959,  tells how the author abandoned a career as a pilot to go diving for a valuable shell amongst the remote and tiny islands of the Seychelles.  Swimming amongst ferocious sharks with a band of illiterate Creoles made for quite an adventure.


The third book is The Forbidden Coast: A Journey Through the Rio de Oro by John Lodwick and again shows the determination of a man to get to places that were largely forbidden.



December 15, 2014, MERRY CHRISTMAS


A very merry Christmas to one and all.  Broadleaf hopes the year ahead will bring peace, good health and happiness to everyone.

The image of nesting robins is taken from Garden Birds by Phyllis Barclay-Smith and is a lovely reminder that the shortest day is near and spring can only be round the corner.



November 6, 2014, Books from the collection of the late Jeff Nuttall


I feel very fortunate to have acquired a large collection of books, mostly poetry, from the library of the late Jeff Nuttall.  Abergavenny was fortunate in being able to hear Jeff play jazz most Sundays at The Hen and Chicks;  he was a talented jazz trumpeter.  It was whilst listening to others play one Sunday in January 2004 that he collapsed and soon after died.  Nuttall became well known with the publication of Culture Bomb.  He played a key role in the 1960s British counter culture.  He was a true polymath; poet, publisher, actor, painter, sculptor ………. To get a really good sense of the man you cannot do better than read the obituary written in The Guardian on 12 January 2004 by one of his many friends Michael Horovitz.

He wrote and published prolifically and Broadleaf has a good selection of his works along with such writers as Frances Horovitz, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg,  Alexander Trocchi, Ivor Cutler …….. and that’s only the first few boxes I have been through to date so who knows what else I may find.  One interesting book is Bookim 70 Years On The Game A Tribute to Bernard Stone from his Many Friends.  Illustrated by Ralph Steadman it is a wonderful journey through a world of bookselling, publishing, lunch parties in Stone’s bookshop with authors – a world that could not be further away from bookselling today – sadly.   Bernard Stone was a poet, bookseller and publisher; catalyst for numerous friendships between writers and artists.  But I digress which is easy to do whilst reading many of the books in this collection…………………





October 17, 2014, October


Sadly another small bookshop is closing in Hay on Wye.  I went to visit the other day and came back with some very lovely illustrated books.  One of these is my favourite wood engraver C.F. Tunnicliffe.  I doubt there has been a finer artist when it comes to capturing the very essence of animals and birds.  Shown opposite are images from The Seasons and the Farmer.

Also bought were some charming period children’s books, quite a few on birds very beautifully illustrated and some on country life in the first half of the 20th century, many of which were illustrated with fine drawings or engravings.


September 5, 2014, The Art of Baking: An Exhibition of Watercolour Paintings


Being the month of the Abergavenny Food Festival Broadleaf Books has organised an exhibition of watercolours for the book ‘Something in the Tin’ by Olivia Goodwillie of Lavistown House, Kilkenny, Ireland:  The very fine watercolours were painted by Kate Raggett to illustrate the book:    The book, Olivia and Kate will all come together in the Cabin of Curiosities on Saturday 20 September 12.00 – 3.30pm:   So for a signed copy of the book or a signed watercolour do come along and meet author and artist.  Opposite is an image of the poster.


The exhibition of Kate Raggett watercolours runs from 8th – 29th Septbember.

The Cabin of Curiosities, The Hidden Garden, Fig Tree Espresso Café, 15 Nevill Street, Abergavenny NP7 5AA. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 10-5.  Wednesday, Thursday 10-1.


Don’t forget the other event at The Cabin in September.  THE ABERJABBER YOUNG STORYTELLERS.  Saturday 27 September.  Arrive 4.30 to start at 5pm and end at 6pm.  Bring a cushion.  Suitable for all over seven year olds.





August 23, 2014, Storytelling at The Cabin of Curiosities


Broadleaf Books has opened a new space at the very back of The Fig Tree Espresso Cafe’s garden.  This is a beautiful setting with a wild flower garden to one side with a few fruit trees.  There are also plants for sale.  Broadleaf shares the space with John and you will find gardening and self sufficiency books along with a wide variety of objects – furniture, glass, ceramics, cloth, paintings and all sorts of interesting bits and pieces.  The space lends itself to exhibitions and to such events like storytelling – details of the first of these are given below:


THE ABERJABBER YOUNG STORYTELLERS will be at The Cabin of Curiosities on SATURDAY 27 SEPTEMBER.  Arrive at 4.30pm to start at 5pm and end at 6pm.  Please bring a cushion to sit on.  Suitable for all who are over 7 years of age.  A hat will be passed around to raise money for Oxfam.

Organised by Daniel Morden, well known storyteller and Joanna Chambers owner of Broadleaf Books.




August 9, 2014, Photography Books


Two photographers who had a huge influence on fashion and portrait photography of the 20th century were Erwin Blumenfeld and Norman Parkinson.  Both very different characters but both changed the way fashion,  in particular,  was portrayed.

Born in Germany in 1897 Blumenfeld’s career took off in the 1930s when he photographed customers at his leather goods shop in Amsterdam.  From the start he was very much influenced by the idea of photography as art, valuing sincerity above commercial considerations.  From the beginning he experimented with colours, darkroom techniques and the use of mirrors and light, most famously in his 1952 portrait of Audrey Hepburn.

Having fled Nazi Germany for Amsterdam in 1941, by the end of the 1940s he was the highest paid photographer in the world, working for such famous magazines as American Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.  Images from the book: Erwin Blumenfeld: Blumenfeld Studio, Color, New York, 1941-1960  isbn: 9783869305318 are shown opposite.


Below Blumenfeld are images taken from: Norman Parkinson: Portraits in Fashion by Robin Muir  isbn: 1570762776.  Born in 1913 in South London Parkinson was educated at Westminster school.  As an adult he stood 6 feet and 5 inches tall and was unable to remain unobtrusive behind the lens and instead created ‘Parks’, the moustachioed, ostentatiously elegant fashion photographer – as much a personality as those who sat for him and frequently more flamboyant.  His flawless professionalism, manners and well rehearsed eccentricities reassured the uneasy sitter and disarmed the experienced.  Parks reinvented himself for each decade of his career, from his ground-breaking spontaneous images of the 1930s, through the war years and the Swinging Sixties to the exotic locations of the 1970s and 1980s.


Both books are currently available at Broadleaf Books.



June 25, 2014, Abergavenny Festival of Cycling



The British Cycling National Road Race Championships is hosted this year by Monmouthshire County Council and runs from 26-29 June.  See for further information.  Saturday and Sunday 28/29 will see a lot of action in and around Abergavenny.


As part of the event Broadleaf is very fortunate to have signed copies of  ‘Lost Lanes.  36 Glorious Bike Rides In Southern England’.  Written by local author Jack Thurston it is selling at £12.50 during the Festival.  Normal price £14.99.  The book invites you to discover the hidden corners of southern England, travelling by bicycle along its ancient network of quiet lanes and byways.  Combining engaging travelogue with stunning photographs and route guides to download the book is a must for cyclists.  It can also be enjoyed by those who prefer to travel from their armchairs!

Jack is now working on a second volume ‘Wales and Borders’ which is due to be published in 2015.

Also available is a limited edition beautifully framed poster of the front cover.  Designed by Andrew Pavitt it perfectly conveys that sense of freedom that you can get on two wheels.  Framed £60.00.  Unframed £40.00.  A photograph of the front cover is shown opposite.




June 14, 2014, Gardening Books


This must be one of the busiest times in the garden.  Having taken on The Fig Tree Espresso garden, which is a wonderful café in Abergavenny run by my daughter and her boyfriend, I know just how frantic these times are.  Showing on book of the month are several really useful books on gardening, harvesting and smallholding.  One of the most useful is Ecological Gardening by Sally Cunningham.  The book gives advice on saving water and composting, ecological weed, pest and disease control.  Written in clear and accessible style it shows how everyone one of us can make a difference.  It just takes a little thoughtfulness and a lot less tidiness in the garden to allow spaces for all sorts of mammals and insects to survive and thrive.

The Wild Garden (shown under The Hedgerow Harvest) reiterates how through careful maintenance and planting a garden can provide a natural haven for the fast diminishing stock of wild flowers, small creatures and insects.   The Hedgerow Harvest gives recipes for the abundance of foods that can be found in the hedgerows – or in your own wild garden.

There are many other titles including: Green Roofs: A Guide to their design and installation by Angela Youngman.  The photograph opposite of a bee hive with a green roof is just one example.  The Complete Guide to Fruit Growing by Peter Blackburne- Maze;  The Complete Guide to Vegetable Growing by the same author;  The Herb Garden by Sarah Garland;  Garden Farming by Hugh Lanham.  There are many more waiting for you to browse through at Broadleaf Books.

June 10, 2014, Closed Wednesday 11 June


Broadleaf will be closed on Wednesday 11 June just for the day.  Very sorry if this causes inconvenience to anyone.

May 10, 2014, An Account of the Padleimiut Eskimo (Inuit)


This week I read a memorable book:  The Long Exile: A True Story of Deception and Survival Amongst the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic by Melanie McGrath.  The book tells the story behind Robert Flaherty’s famous film Nanook of the North.  Made in 1920 it was the aim of Flaherty to film a typical Inuit family casting various locals in parts of the film.  The book reveals how deadly the ‘white man’ is to the Inuit – introducing disease; taking away their customs, traditions and independence;  most cruelly separating and relocating families in the 1950s to almost impossible living conditions in the extreme North.  Flaherty left behind a young pregnant Inuit (who played the wife of Nanook in the film) who gave birth to his son.  He knew of this but never recognised the boy whose name was Josephie.

All of this reminded me of a stunning book of photographs held by Broadleaf:  Padlei Diary: 1950.  An Account of the Padleimiui Eskimo in the Keewatin District west of Hudson Bay during the Early Months of 1950 as witnessed, written and photographed by Richard Harrington.  Edited by Edmund Carpenter.  Published by Rock Foundation 2000.   Harrington went North many times and lived with the Inuit – he shared their hardships and starvations.  Others went but Harrington’s photographs alone give a truthful account and reveal the silent dignity of the Inuit in the presence of personal and cultural death.  The photographs for this months book are taken from Harrington’s book.


April 3, 2014, GENESIS: A Photographic Homage To Our Planet In Its Natural State by Sebastiao Salgado


Raised on a farm in Brazil, photographer Sebastiao Salgado possesses a deep love and respect for nature.  He is also particularly sensitive to the ways in which human beings are affected by their often devastating socio-economic conditions.  Genesis is the result of an epic eight year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts and oceans, the animals and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society – the land and life of a still pristine planet.  Using solely black and white photography, Salgado instills a glistening, textured fabric so intricate in its weave that even the most finite details seem to extend to infinity.  This is a simply fabulous book with breath taking photographs that can be looked at over and over again.  Broadleaf is more than pleased to have a copy for sale.  Some images appear under book of the month.


March 13, 2014, The Parrot


There is a rather fine parrot showing off in the window.  He is not for sale.



March 8, 2014, The Modern Baker


Opposite are a set of six The Modern Baker Confectioner Confectioner & Caterer.  Beautifully bound in art deco style with colour and black and white illustrations throughout with tissue guard.  Lovely to have in the shop and sorry to be selling them.

Many classics and poetry books with very lovely bindings also just come in and also shown opposite.

February 17, 2014, Railway Books



Just in are quite a stack of railway books.   Two are featured opposite.  I confess I picked them out as I was particularly struck by the design on the boards.  Track Topics deals with the civil (as distinct from the mechanical) engineering side and includes descriptions of some of the more remarkable features of the Great Western Railway.  There are many historical photographs some of which illustrate viaducts, bridges, track construction, Severn Tunnel, gradients and buildings.   Loco’s of “The Royal Road” includes the earliest locomotive, the first standard engines, engine and boiler components, building and working of the locomotive.  These books were first published in 1936 and reprinted by David and Charles in 1987.  Intended for ‘boys of all ages’ they make fascinating reading for all, including girls………..




January 30, 2014, Do you have good quality books to sell?


Broadleaf is always looking for interesting books in good condition.  It is difficult to explain to people what sort of books are bought by Broadleaf.  I can say what is not sought – that would be most paperback fiction, books that are readers union or book club and reference books there may be others but those are the main categories.  I look for books on history, natural history, local history, art, photography (but not how to do it), science, philosophy, myth, poetry, children’s books, some cookery and gardening, travel and folio books.  If you have books on these or possibly other subjects you think might be of interest do let me know.

January 17, 2014, POSTER ART


Under the visionary leadership of Frank Pick the then Underground London Transport played a pioneering role as Britain’s greatest patron of poster art.  The artists commissioned reflect a dazzling variety of period styles and techniques from an extraordinary range of artists and designers such as those shown here by Edward McKnight Kauffer,  Graham Sutherland,  Tom Eckersley with Eric Lambers and Edward Bawden.  The book which is titled: London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design is edited by David Bownes and Oliver Green.  On every page stunning art can be found.  As with most of the books in Broadleaf only one copy is in stock – I don’t think it will be for long ………..

January 4, 2014, A HAPPY NEW YEAR


It is wonderful to know that we are past the shortest daylight hours and heading for lighter evenings.  But, whilst evenings are still cold what better way of spending the long evenings indoors than turning to some poetry, or Shakespeare.  The images for this month show just some of the poetry at Broadleaf Books and a very beautifully bound and illustrated copy of The Dramatic Works of Shakespeare published around 1860.

December 4, 2013, HAPPY CHRISTMAS

As a Christmas card the book of the month is the beautiful linocut of a hare.  It comes from Cutting Away: The Linocuts of Robert Gillmor.  This fantastic illustrator began his career at fifteen years of age.  He illustrated the first of over 100 books in 1958 and in the same decade organised Exhibition by Contemporary Bird Painters which led directly to the founding in 1964 of the Society of Wildlife Artists.  He has illustrated quite a few of the New Naturalist series:  Bumblebees in 2005 and Mosses and Liverworts in the same year.  Gillmor is still painting and was recently artist in residence at Nature in Art:  Art Gallery and Museum which is near Gloucester.  If you have not visited this gallery and you love nature it is a must.

Also shown is Whooper Swans.




November 7, 2013, Ladybird Books


The classic pocket-sized small hardback Ladybird book was first published in the 1940s and is still popular today.  They were published in simple,  well written language and were very well illustrated.  Their aim was to help young children to read and learn and the subjects covered were many.  They included fiction and non fiction.  In the non fiction series there were some on natural history and these involved artists such as  Charles Tunnicliffe, Allen W Seaby and John Leigh-Pemberton.  The two shown are beautifully illustrated by Tunnicliffe and are accompanied by What To Look For in Spring and What To Look For in Summer.  They are still collected by some and are very affordable.

October 4, 2013, Folio Society Books



Broadleaf has just purchased quite a large collection of books published by The Folio Society.  The Society is a privately owned London-based publisher, founded by Charles Ede in 1947.  It publishes hard back editions of classic fiction and non-fiction books.  Each edition features specially designed bindings and includes artist-commissioned illustrations.  Often titles have some very good wood engravings and the book picked under book of the month is a good example with engravings by Simon Brett and very beautifully illustrated boards.  Also shown are a very small collection just to show off the books spines and titles.  There are many, many more in the shop and they do make very lovely presents.  They are also very reasonably priced.


September 10, 2013,

This is the month of the Abergavenny Food Festival.  Broadleaf is offering 12% of all cookery books for the Food Festival weekend.  The titles cover a broad range of cookery worldwide;  self sufficiency, farming and country life;  identifying mushrooms and growing your own vegetables and fruit, as well as food history.


Being the centenary year of Elizabeth David, Britain’s most influential post-war writer on food and cookery, Jill Norman will be joined by Franco and Ann Taruschio to talk of those heady days (check Abergavenny Food Festival web site for time and place). Jill Norman was her editor at Penguin from the 1960s and Franco will be cooking some of Elizabeth’s recipes.  All three knew her well.


Broadleaf has some of the original Penguin titles, such as French Provincial Cooking and French Country Cooking,  as well as more modern versions of: A Book of Mediterranean Food,  Italian Food and Summer Cooking.  There is still nobody who writes so brilliantly about food and its surrounding.  This is from French Provincial Cooking:

‘You have decided upon your meal, and Madame, in her black dress, has moved majestically towards the kitchen to attend to your wishes.  A bottle of cooled wine is already in front of you, and from the big table in the centre of the restaurant a waiter brings hors-d’oeuvre……………they bring you quantities of little prawns, freshly boiled, with just the right amount of salt, and a most stimulating smell of the sea into the bargain, heaped up in a big yellow bowl; another bowl filled with green olives; good salty bread; and a positive monolith of butter, towering up from a wooden board………… take in your surroundings: the light and sunny dining-room, neither too big nor too small, the comfortably worn flowered wallpaper, the country flowers on the tables, and the shady garden which you can see through the open window…….’


The mention of Jill Norman took me to the cookery shelves at Broadleaf to find the title The New Penguin Cookery Book by Jill Norman.  Throughout the book the emphasis is on uncomplicated dishes to help anyone feel confident in the kitchen.  A large hardback published by Michael Joseph.


If it is fish you love Broadleaf has: The Fish Store by Lindsey Bareham which is highly recommended by Rick Stein – also a speaker at the Food Festival.   As well as an inspiring collection of fish recipes, there are mouth-watering ideas for al fresco lunches.


Other titles on the shelves are: Sicilian Food: Recipes from Italy’s Abundant Isle by Mary Taylor Simeti.  Food of Japan by Shirley Booth.  The Best of Boulestin.    Recipes from the Spanish Kitchen.  All my Eggs in one Basket – an enchanting account of a year at the Kitchen Garden – by Francine Raymond.  The Pudding That Took A Thousand Cooks -The story of cooking in civilization and daily life. Tom Petherick: Sufficient: A Modern Guide to Sustainable Living.   There are many, many more …………….


Returning to Elizabeth David, a major influence on her writing, mentor and friend, was Norman Douglas, a British writer best known for his 1917 novel South Wind.  Broadleaf has a re-issue of this title published by Secker & Warburg.


Fig Tree Espresso ………

On the subject of delicious food my daughter and her partner have just opened a very beautiful café and art gallery called Fig Tree Espresso.  It is at 15 Nevill Street, Abergavenny.  Very fine James Gourmet freshly roasted coffee is served, along with hot chocolate and a wonderful range of loose leaf teas.  A select menu is prepared on the premises each day .  On yesterday’s menu was Moroccan Carrot soup, goats cheese and beetroot tart with a salad made with orzo.  Also two stunning cakes:  Double Espresso Chocolate Cake and Tropical Carrot Cake, also Blondies (a white chocolate version of a Brownie) and other pastries hard to resist.  There is a very lovely garden to the back for customers to use and for the café to grow their own vegetables, herbs and, it is hoped fruits.  Within the garden are two large Fig trees (hence the name) and a Kiwi fruit tree.  Try it ………………..






August 13, 2013, Books recently found

It is hard to believe that we are already nearly half way through August.  The heat of summer is over and there is a scent of autumn in the air.  The cuckoos left us in July and the swifts on 2nd August – the sky is quiet without their joyous calls and cries.  But, the books keep coming in.  I have now sorted through many war books from one mans collection which are now out on the shelves.   Also some very lovely art/photography books – two of which I have put under Book of the Month. The first is: Le Corbusier and the Power of Photography published by Thames & Hudson.  The Swiss born architect had perhaps a more profound effect on visual culture than any other architect of his generation.  The second is a visually stunning book:  Scarves published also by Thames & Hudson.  Here are wonderful images to every page of scarves created by artists – I could not resist more than one image.


July 31, 2013, The cyclist


On one of the hottest days this month a man cycled from Carmarthen to find a book I had listed on abe books.  That is about 64 miles/103km.  Thankfully I had the book which he bought.  I filled up his water bottles and he set off for the return journey.  I was impressed!

July 8, 2013, Summer holiday

The shop will be closed for a week from Tuesday 16 July to Tuesday 23 July for a short summer holiday.  I do hope that this does not cause inconvenience and apologise if it does.

July 4, 2013,

It is my very good fortune to sometimes be invited to buy someone’s lifetime collection of books.  It is usually sad that the collection must be given up, for whatever reason, but it is also hugely exciting finding a rich mix of titles.  I have been returning to one person’s collection over the last six months and am always amazed at his breadth of reading.  In such cases I take far longer than I should as I get lost in the books myself.  On my last visit I sorted through the Welsh history.  There are many fascinating books, many no longer in print.  They range from studies of Abergaveny, Usk, South Wales, Civil War in Wales and the Marches,  Rebecca and her Daughters, The Marches of Wales, The Royal Monmouthshire Militia, Wales and her Language.  One particularly interesting volume is: Royal Visits And Progresses To Wales and the Border Counties of Cheshire, Salop, Hereford and Monmouth from the First Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Friendly Visit of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria.  Dated 1850 Edward Parry.   There are many engravings and towards the middle six illuminated plates with tissue guards.

The colours have kept brilliantly and the costumes are a very accurate guide for the times.

All the books shown for this month are only available in the shop.  Selling heavy books on line has become a lot more difficult due to the cost of postage.  Come and visit!



April 25, 2013, May 2013


Quite often books with interesting illustrated boards find their way into the shop.  Often published in the 18th or early 19th century and often now out of print.  Here are just two such publications.





March 20, 2013, March

Many art books have found their way into the shop this month.  Titles cover the life of John Linnell, one of the last of the great English Romantic school of painters;  the aesthetic movement;  20c German Painting;  Fauve landscapes;  Victorian landscape watercolours;  Kandinsky;  Warhol and British watercolours between 1750-1880.  This last work is one of my favourites and I could  not resist showing some images. 

These are by John Rusin,  John Sell Cotman and Samuel Palmer.


February 23, 2013, February


It is very good to have the first three novels written by Francoise Sagan first published in GB with their original d/js.



Bonjour Tristesse was published in 1954 and written when she was only 18 years old;  A Certain Smile in 1955 and Those Without Tears in 1957.  At the time her characters became icons for disillusioned teenagers.  Neither of her marriages lasted for more than two years and, amongst many of her quotes, she said:

“I have loved to the point of madness, that which is called madness, that which to me is the only sensible way to live”.


January 14, 2013, January 2013


Being a lover of wood-engraving I was very pleased so pleased to find once again a copy of Portrait of a Village by Francis Brett Young with engravings on wood by Joan Hassall.  The story begins with cuckoos flying from Africa back to the village of Monk’s Norton.  A heartening reminder in these cold days that spring is not so far off.  Below is  just one of the fine engravings.





December 17, 2012, Happy Christmas







November 4, 2012, First Editions


I have just been lucky enough to purchase one woman’s remarkable collection of books.   Many are well known authors from the past and the present.  These include Graham Greene,  Margaret Drabble,  Iris Murdoch,  John Updike,  Joseph Heller,  Nancy Mitford,  Muriel Spark,  William Golding,  Francoise Sagan,  Ernest Hemingway,  Edna O’Brien,  Vladimir Nabokov,  Milan Kundera,  Christopher Isherwood – to name just a few.  With original d/j’s which often have the most stunning designs.  For anyone wishing to start collecting first editions these are fantastic times as many are at prices so low even I was surprised.   This will not always be so as such titles in such excellent condition can only increase in value.   I have photographed a few for Book of the Month.


October 25, 2012, Halloweeen!

Now is the time of witches and magic.  Broadleaf has sculpted a ghostly pumpkin.  If you have done the same we would love it if you sent a photo to: and we will display it on the site.


October 5, 2012, Photography books

Broadleaf stocks a good selection of books on photographers.  Recent acquisitions are:

Mario Giacomelli by Alistair Crawford.  No d/j.  600 duotone photographs.  Phaidon 2001.  £30.00

Giacomelli was a self taught Italian photographer inspired by gritty Neo-Realist Italian films.  He developed a style characterized by bold, stylized compositions of stark contrasts.


Chaos by Josef Koudelka.  With d/j.  With 108 b/w photographs.  Phaidon 2005.  £40.00

With panoramic images, some double spread, by the Czech photographer who became famous for his images of the Soviet invasion of Prague and praised for his ability to capture the presence of the human spirit amidst dark landscapes.  Stunning bold images.


Reni Burri Photographs by Hans-Michael Koetzle.  Large softback.  Phaidon.  £20.00.  A Swiss photographer known for his photographs of major political, historical and cultural events and key figures of the second part of the 20th century.


Robert Capa: The Definitive Collection.  Hardback.  No d/j.  Phaidon.  £38.00.   A Hungarian combat photographer and photojournalist who covered five different wars, including the Spanish Civil War.


Many Ray: Arbres + Fleurs – Insectes Animaux.  Hardback with d/j.  Steidl.  £35.00.  An American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris.


Henri Cartier-Bresson by Jean Clair.  Softback.  £12.00.    A French photographer considered to be the father of modern photojournalism.  An early adopter of 35mm format and the master of street photography and life reportage.


These are just a few of the photography books available in the shop so come and have a look.




September 21, 2012, Architecture books

A favourite title of September is a gem of a book on Le Corbusier’s passion for the making of books.  This is selling at Broadleaf for £15.00.  Contact us if interested.

It is just one of many architecture books sold in the shop.  Come in and have a look.

September 13, 2012, Discount on cookbooks

20% of all cookbooks at Broadleaf for the Food Festival weekend.

September 12, 2012, Abergavenny Food Festival weekend

It is a very busy weekend in town with much wonderful food.  Also to be found are wonderful books!  Broadleaf has a large selection of cookery books – not just the old favourites such as Rick Stein, Hugh Fearnley Whttingstall and the earlier Elizabeth David and Mrs Beeton but also covering cooking from around the world.  Books can be found on the history of food;  its medicinal value;  how to grow your own fruit and vegetables;  how to keep your own livestock – be self sufficient!


Some favourites are:

The English Apple by Rosanne Sanders.  Beautifully illustrated with each apple shown in colour full page with blossom, twig and leaf.


Pickled, Potted and Canned: The Story of Food Preserving by Sue Shephard.


Recipes of Old England: Three Centuries of English Cooking Modernised by Bernard N Bessunger.


Food The History of Taste edited by Paul Freedman.


Stories and Recipes from Vietnam: The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen of Red Lantern.


Cooking From the Heart of Spain by Janet Mendel.


Indonesian Regional Food and Cookery by Sri Owen


Arabian Flavours: Recipes and Tales of Arab Life by Salah Jamal.


The Pleasure of Your Company: A History of Manners and Meals by Jean Latham.


Mr and Mrs Charles Dickens Entertain at Homeby Helen Cox.   With Dickens on Food selected by Stuart McHugh a great granddaughter of Charles Dickens.


Coffee by Claudia Roden


The Joy of Truffles by Otward-Buchner and Patrik Jaros


Self Sufficiency by John Seymour ……… and others on self sufficiency.


Come in and have a look!




September 10, 2012, More welsh history books now in stock

I have just bought a large collection of welsh history books.  There are many interesting titles.  Here are just a few to hopefully tempt you:


Vaynor:  A Study of the Welsh Countryside by Elwyn Bowen.  The author seeks to chronicle the ancient and recent past  ofVaynor lying within the Brecon Beacons National Park and until the 20th century was the epitome of rural peace and tranquillity.  Selling at Broadleaf in as new condition @ £10.00.


Dances of England and Wales by Maud Karpeles and Lois Blake.  A really charming small book in hardback with a d/j illutrated to the front of dancing around the Maypole.  Here are dances almost lost in time but sought out by the author.   Published in 1950 by Max Parrish & Co.  Selling at Broadleaf in very good condition@ £8.50.


Forgotten Railways:  Vol 8 South Wales by James Page.  Published by David & Charles in hardback, with d/j.  A fascinating book which recalls the railway heyday in South Wales with the Valleys lines well to the forefront.   Illustrated with route maps, fold out map to the back and b/w photographs.  Selling at Broadleaf @ £9.95.


Cliffs of Freedom: The Story of Skomer Island, and of Reuben Codd the Last Man to Farm It by Roscoe Howells.  Published by Gomerian Press, 1961 in hardback with d/j, first impression 1961.  Traces the history of those who lived and worked on the island since the time of the Ancient Britons.  With b/w photographs.  Selling at Broadleaf @ £8.50.


Some further titles:  Working Life on Severn & Canal:  Reminiscences of Working Boatmen.  With b/w photographs.  Published by Alan Sutton in softback.  Selling at Broadleaf @ £4.50.


Bardic Heritage: A Selection of Welsh Poetry in Free English Translation by Robert Gurney.  Published by Chatto & Windus 1969 in hardback with d/j.  Selling at Broadleaf @ £6.50.


Here and There on the Monmouthshire Brecon & Abergavenny Canal: A Sketch-Book by Ken Haynes.  Published by The Starling Press Ltd, 1988 in softback.  Selling at Broadleaf @ £4.50.


There are many, many more titles so come in and have a look for yourself!

September 2, 2012, Artworkhouse Gallery Exhibition

The ArtWorkhouse has an exhibition of work by Bob Mitchell.  Open weekends 10.30 -4pm until 14th October 2012.  Hatherleigh Place, Union Road West, Abergavenny, NP7 7RL.  Tel: 07967 145877.




Here are some posters Broadleaf Books is displaying to advertise the art and photography sections of the shop.

August 22, 2012, Recent natural history acquisitions

Recent natural history acquisitions are a three volume set of A Hand-Book to the Order of Lepidoptera by W F Kirby, 1894.  Each has very beautiful colour plates, each protected by tissue guards.

Also Ferns: British and Exotic Volumes 1 and 7, published 1872.  These two volumes of a much larger set have stunning full page colour illustrations all in fine condition each with tissue guard.

Do contact Broadleaf Books if you are interested or just come in and have a look.

August 22, 2012, local history and art books just in

I have just bought some new stock for the local history and art shelves.  With new books coming in some of the old must go out for £1.00.  So you might find a bargain!







Book of the Month!

All the King Penguins

Skippy visiting Broadleaf

Gardening Books: Some old and some new. Summer 2021








The charm of illustrations in the older book

London books


A POEM FOR THE NEW YEAR. A poem of hope and looking towards the light that brings spring

THE RED ROBIN by John Clare

Cock Robin he got a neat tippet at spring
And he sat in a shed and heard other birds sing
And he whistled a ballad as loud as he could
And built him a nest of oak leaves by the wood

And furnished it just as the celadine pressed
Like a bright burning blaze by the edge o’its nest
All glittering with sunshine and beautiful rays
Like high polished brass or the fire in a blaze

Then sung a new song on the bend o’the brere
And so it kept singing the whole of the year
Till cowslips and wild roses blossomed and died
The red robin sung by the old spring side


Take a break from the food frenzy and enter a world of books

Books on Ballet

Broadleaf has been very fortunate to acquire some very beautiful books on the ballet. Not only do they tell the story of dancing and dancers but the photographs are superb.

The old roads of Britain

The wild flower garden at Broadleaf



The Natural History of the Garden by Michael Chinery




Autumn Leaves

At a time when leaves are at their most beautiful what better time to look at books such as Beautiful Leaved Plants by Frances Perry. Each leaf is illustrated full page in glorious colour with a description opposite. The book has always been a favourite at Broadleaf. The image shown are leaves from a garden nearby.

Edward Bawden dust jacket


The bookshop and garden at Broadleaf.


Wild Flowers Of The British Isles. Illustrated and written by H Isabel Adams


The Peregrine Falcon


This is a truly remarkable bird that can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour.  The writer J A Baker gave a very apt description of the flight of the bird: “that cloud-biting anchor shape, that crossbow flinging through the air” in his book The Peregrine.  Baker more or less lived with the bird for months on end and spent ten years observing wintering Peregrines in Essex.

Bird Eggs as shown in The Birds of the British Isles and Their Eggs by T A Coward
World of van Gogh by photographer Emmy Andriesse





Gardening Books



My Garden In Autumn And Winter by E A Bowles.  Boards illustrated by K Cameron






Some good architecture books are in stock with more on the way. 

Recent book buys





It is always lovely to have young children in the shop and to hear them chattering over books found in the shops back room, part of which is shown below.  Recently there has been some new stock but there is always room for more.  If you have good quality children’s books to sell do contact Broadleaf Books.  We are always happy to view and, if suitable, to buy.


The artist Vere Temple


Vere Temple was born in 1898 at Boreham Manor which is near Warminster.  Showing an early aptitude for art her mother compiled an album of her drawings and noted that her daughter had “an exceptional eye”.  From the 1920s her work was exhibited in many leading galleries across the country.  Temple was a member of The Royal Entomological Society in London and examples of her work are held in collections of The British Council, Manchester City Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.  Temple illustrated many books all of which usually cost pennies to buy.  Her illustrations are delicate, accurate and simply beautiful.  The two shown below are from British Butterflies and Flowers and Butterflies, both published by The Studio around mid 1940’s.










Welsh Country Life – books of local interest








For ‘English’ maybe British should be substituted.  The book is by Dion Clayton Calthrop with very lovely colour illustrations taken from paintings by Beatrice Parsons and others.  Originally published in 1910 it was re-published in this edition in 1985.  The author talks of ‘the spirit of a garden’;  ‘the cottage garden’;  ‘gardens and history’ and ‘garden moods’.  A small paragraph on a chapter on A Country Lane is full of the wild flowers:

‘Behind me, and in front, trailing Black Bryony twisted its arms round Traveller’s Joy, Honeysuckle and Wild Roses.  Here and there, pink and white Bindweed hung, clinging to the hedge.  By me, on the bank, Monkshood, Our Lady’s Cushion, and Butterfly Orchis grew, all shining with the rain, and the Silver-weed shone better them all’.

Christmas Storytelling for Children

Puffin Picture Books. Farm Crops in Britain




FAIRY TALES by The Countess D’Aulnoy


Fairy Tales by The Countess D’Aulnoy.  Translated by J.R. Planche.  With sixty illustrations by Gordon Browne.  George Routledge and Sons, London.  1888.  The image shown is from the fairy tale The Blue Bird.


Tiger Flower a tale by Robert Vavra around paintings by Fleur Cowles



Instead of seeking a den of boulders, the cheetah makes his cubs a nest of leaves
















Penguin Books


The Cabin of Curiosities and Fig Tree Espresso garden

For events such as the Storytellers evening furniture is pushed to the sides to create an open forum.

Just a small part of The Fig Tree Espresso garden.  The Cabin is set to the far back.  If you have not visited yet you really should!


Travel books of the 1950’s





Books at Broadleaf


Recent images of part of Broadleaf which wishes you a merry Christmas.



Jeff Nuttall




Something in the Tin: The Art of Baking


Lost Lanes 36 Glorious Bike Rides In Southern England by Jack Thurston


The Parrot


Railway Books




First Editions






Spooky books for Halloween