Many people will have experienced Robert's fascination with books. I was one of them. I think I could admit to actually falling prey to Robert's bibiomania so I will write here for you a memory between father and daughter concerning that of the books.
When I was younger, I lived in Brighton. I travelled a great deal but settled in Sussex for many years during my early twenties. I remember one day enrolling onto a bookbinding course at what was then Brighton polytechnic. I did this mainly for fun but was surprised to find out during the course that my tutor was one of the top bookbinders in Britain. Her name was Faith Shannon. She was a great bookbinder and I enjoyed watching her and learning from her. My part time course started to become more serious and I began learning more skills. We used to sew our own books with cords and tapes, create curved spines and marble and sand the foredges of the paper. Before I knew it after about a year, I was paring leather and preparing to bind my first leather book.
I had just got married in Devon, Yelverton to be precise. Robert had 'given me away'. on my wedding day.
Bookbinding is an ancient craft. You rarely see it or hear of it much anymore. It is a specialised area of art and craftmanship particularly in this age of technology.
My new husband and I lived in Horndon and we were in desperate need of money. We ended up moving to Cornwall to a lovley part of a manor house. The rent was so cheap and the setting idyllic. I managed to get an apprenticeship in Cornwall, Launceston at a bookshop where I was taught to bind leather books and use gold leaf on lables. During this time, Robert became quite ill and I visited him and told him about my bookbinding.
That was it. I have never seen such a quick recovery. Robert set me the challenge of binding a small book for him.
This progressed on to other books, mainly occult books and before I knew it, I was binding and restoring some of the most beautiful books I had ever seen. We would order the endpapers from London. They had to be acid free. Robert was very particular on the endpapers. He had a fascination with a kind of transparent paper that looked like tracing paper or tissue paper but it was actually very tough and didn't tear easily. He was also fascinated with crimson leather lables embossed with gold leaf. I had a studio in our flat at the manor and I used to keep all my bookbinding materials there. I wish I had kept them over the years. I had boxes of printers type of all various sizes, bags of offcut leather, papers, string, needles. I look back and can't believe that I learnt so much about bookbinding. I have forgotten much of it now.
Robert would give me books to bind. Crazily I never kept a catalogue of the ones I bound but my husband remembered some of them. Robert sometimes asked me to initial them. I will try and add to the list as I go along. I do remember that I rebound the DEE and Stegonographia as well as books by Agrippa. Robert usually wanted the books finished within two weeks so I worked hard and when they were finished, take the books down to the Barbican, meet him at Jo Prietes and then he would enjoy collecting his newly bound books. It was fun but it did become exhausting for me. At the end of two years, I began to want to move on. I remember asking Robert how many books had I actually bound for him. His answer was...'Over 500!'