Driff Field

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Xavier Driffield (born in 1948 or 1949)[1], also known as Driff Field, drif field, driffield, dryfeld or simply Drif was a figure in the British book-dealing world during the 1980s and 1990s.


Driffield started as a booksearcher, obtaining titles to order for private customers, and in 1984 began producing a self-published guide to All The Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain.[2] Hugely successful for its wit and wide coverage of the field, the guide was nonetheless idiosyncratic and often sarcastic, with entries such as: "the b[oo]ks are slowly transforming themselves back into rags"; "judging by body temp, shop seems to have expired in 1930"; "I could smell a bargain, pity was I had a cold that day"; "owner has been unwell recently with bad back (possibly caused by turning on the customers once too often)".

Driffield also launched a periodical called Driffs: The Antiquarian and Secondhand Fortnightly, although the magazine was rarely published as frequently as that and folded after 22 issues.

The guide went through at least five editions, dated 1984, 1987, 1991, 1992 and 1995. In the third he seemed to refer to a spell of mental illness after the publication of the second, though Francis Wheen thought this an intentionally misleading reference.[3]

Identity and rape allegations[edit]

Although photos existed of Driffield[4] (he fancied he resembled Raymond Carver), for a long time, little was known about him or his current whereabouts, or even if he was still alive, until 2014, when he was the defendant in a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, accused of five counts of indecent assault, one count of indecency with a child and two counts of rape. It was alleged that he had used these events as the inspiration for a novel. [5] Driffield was found not guilty of these allegations. [6] He stood trial under the name Xavier Driffield, although previously some sources had cited his name (seemingly erroneously) as "B.C.M. Driffield" and others as "David Richard Ian Frederick Field".[7] He claimed to have been brought up in Newbury, England. In 1991 Francis Wheen considered that he "seems to be in his forties".[8]

In popular culture[edit]

Drif appears as a character in Iain Sinclair's novel White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings. He took part in the 1992 documentary The Cardinal And The Corpse, made by Chris Petit for Channel 4 and also featuring Alan Moore and Iain Sinclair. [9]


Driffield, or The Man Who Thought He Looked Like Raymond Carver, an article by Iain Sinclair published in the UK Independent on Sunday Talk of the Town magazine (17 August 2003). A guide to Drif', an interview with Drif by Francis Wheen, with a photograph by Michael Woods, appeared in The Independent magazine (19 October 1991, pp. 50–53).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mare, Tess De La (2014-11-05). "'Rapist used sex attacks on young girl as inspiration for novel - then sent copy to victim's family'". mirror. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  2. ^ Francis Wheen, A guide to Drif, ″The Independent magazine″ (19 October 1991), pp. 50-53, at p. 50.
  3. ^ Wheen, "op. cit." p. 50.
  4. ^ Pradeep, Sebastian. "London's fabled Book Runners". The Hindu. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  5. ^ Youle, by Emma. "Abuser sent novel describing sex attacks on girl aged 11 to family, jury hears". Hampstead Highgate Express. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  6. ^ "BOOK DEALER CLEARED OF SEXUALLY ABUSING YOUNG GIRL - Court News UK". courtnewsuk.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  7. ^ Wheen, "op. cit." p. 50.
  8. ^ Wheen, "op. cit." p. 50.
  9. ^ "The Cardinal and the Corpse, directed by Christopher Petit | Film review". Time Out London. Retrieved 2018-09-21.

External links[edit]