Compendium Books

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Compendium Books was an independent bookstore in London specialising in experimental literary and theoretical publications.


It was founded by Diana Gravill and Nicholas Rochford and was located at 234 Camden High Street, London, and opened in August 1968.[1]

Following the closures of Better Books and Indica, Compendium was for many years the main place for "the London literary avant-garde".[2][3] It was a key venue for the British Poetry Revival[4] and for availability of the texts of post-1968 political and cultural theory.[5] There was a massive music section, with many imported US titles on blues, soul, jazz and rock and roll. Compendium also had sections for left-wing politics, philosophy, the occult and science fiction.

The knowledgeable staff at Compendium included Nick Kimberley, now the opera critic for the London Evening Standard, and the critic and writer Elizabeth Young, whose Guardian obituary described the shop in the late 1970s:

In the 1970s, she worked in London's finest alternative bookstore, the late-lamented Compendium Books, in Camden Town. More than simply a bookshop, Compendium was also a cultural centre for the punk-rock scene.... The Clash, in particular, were regular visitors, writing The Prisoner about the shop's patriarch Nick Rochford.[6]

Compendium Books closed in October 2000.[5] It is now a Dr Martens shop.


  1. ^ Miles, Barry (2010). London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945. Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-84354-613-9.
  2. ^ Fountain, Nigel (1988). Underground: The London Alternative Press 1966-74. Routledge. p. 190. ISBN 0-415-00728-3. 
  3. ^ Williams, John (2002-12-09). "Mike Hart: Bohemian bookseller and champion of new fiction". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  4. ^ Baker, Brian (2007). Iain Sinclair (Contemporary British Novelists). Manchester University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-7190-6905-X. 
  5. ^ a b Derbyshire, Philip (2001). "Obituaries/Profiles: Compendium Bookshop, 1968-2000". Radical Philosophy. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  6. ^ John Williams, Obituary of Elizabeth Young, The Guardian, 23 March 2001.

Coordinates: 51°32′28″N 0°8′40″W / 51.54111°N 0.14444°W / 51.54111; -0.14444