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The bookshop 1964

University of Sussex: Falmer House 1962
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

My first job

When I left Fawcett School, in 1964, my first job was as an assistant in the University of Sussex bookshop. At that time it was in Falmer House, the initial part of the modern building that was the university. The bookshop was managed by Harry Hunter, a small and pugnacious man who seemed to be constantly angry. He did not seem to like the students very much, who, after all, were the bread and butter of the shop. Once, to my embarrassment, he reduced me to tears, my having transgressed one of his many rules. 

It was an education

Despite all that, I loved working there and it was an education in its own right. I got to know the stock pretty well and I kept books under the counter which I read at quiet times. I am sure that this boded well for my own – much later – academic career. The varied titles of the books also gave me some idea about the nature of the knowledge that was out there.

Do you have any University of Sussex memories. To share with us, please post a comment below

Beating the book thieves

After a spate of thefts in the shop, Harry Hunter organised a novel – if eccentric – plan to catch the book stealers. He organised a porter to climb the hill behind the bookshop and use binoculars to survey the shop from outside. If the porter saw anything untoward, he spoke to Harry by some sort of two way radio. Odd, it may have been, but it ensured the capture of some of the book thieves. One student asked me, after he was stopped at the door with his contraband, ‘but how did you know I had done it?’

Interesting customers

We had some interesting customers. Asa Briggs, later Sir Asa, one of Britain’s most senior, historical academics, was a regular, as was Virginia Wade, later to become a winner at Wimbledon. In those pre-personal computer days, we sold huge amounts of ‘A4, feint and margin’.  All of the students and many of the academic staff had to write their papers by hand.


Comments about this page

  • Very interesting to hear a first hand account of stories that had been told to me.
    I never met Mr. Hunter.
    I was employed at Sussex University Bookshop
    from 1970 ( it had moved to the Refectory Building, later Bramber House) and I retired as bookshop manager in 2007, when the bookshop was sold to John Smith & Son.
    The bookshop later moved into the university library and has since closed down.
    I loved my time at Sussex and met many interesting people.

    By Kristian Berggreen (12/09/2019)
  • I’m sure I wasn’t the only non-University student visiting the bookshop, the excellent “Sussex : Environment, Landscape & Society” (1983) being the first book I bought there. – Yet another fine bookshop gone … sad to hear that.

    By Sam Flowers (12/09/2019)
  • I was at Sussex as a ‘Mature unqualified’ student from 1980-83 and later worked for the adult Ed. dept.[ CCE] until it was sadly closed in 2012, although I still work for Global Studies geography. The Bramber House bookshop was lovely and always seemed bustling with activity. Sadly the John Smith’s stuck behind a café at the library always seemed empty[reason it shut..?]and devoid of atmosphere. “Sussex: Environment, Landscape & Society” [The Blue Book’ in the geography trade!] was being compiled by the geography team for a British Association conference held at Sussex in 1983… my finals year; the students of that cohort often moaned that the staff were more interested in ‘The Book’ than in teaching us! a statement I do NOT concur with…as a I achieved [as a ‘Mature Unqualified’ student] an upper second !

    By Geoffrey Mead (13/09/2019)

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