Monday, 24 February 2020

Iris Murdoch's Black Prince in a Rathbone Place stationery shop

Winsor and Newton shop in Rathbone Place, London
(picture from Winsor and Newton Catalogue of Artist's Materials, London 1874)


I turned into a stationer's shop in Rathbone Place. I can browse indefinetly in a stationer's shop, indeed there is hardly anything in a good stationer's shop which I do not like and want. What a scene of refreshment and innocence! Loose leaf paper, writing paper, notebooks, envelopes, postcards, pens, pencils, paper-clips, blotting paper, ink, files, old-fashioned things like sealing wax, new-fangled things like sellotape....I had to load somebody with presents. I collected for Rachel a ball of red string, a blue felt-tipped pen, a pad of special calligrapher's paper, a magnifying glass, a fancy carrier bag, a large wooden clothes peg with URGENT written on it in gold, and six postcards of the Post Office Tower.


Iris Murdoch, The Black Prince, 1973


picture from Winsor and Newton Artist's Materials Catalogue, 1874



Rathbone Place, a street off Tottenham Court Road in central London, has been populated by artists since the 18th century and by the 19th century, there were many art supplies shops in the street. Renowned artist colour manufacturers George Rowney and Co, suppliers to J.M.W. Turner, traded there from 1817 to 1884; William Winsor and Henry Charles Newton set up business at No. 38 in 1833 and continued trading in the area until 1987.  Jackson and Sons also set up shop in Rathbone Place in 1817. Charles Dickens has spoken of the Winsor and Newton "Rathbone Place magicians":
Has anyone ever seen anything like Winsor and Newton's cups of chromes and carnations...and crimsons, loud and fierce as a war-cry, and pinks, tender and loving as a young girl?
old George Rowney pencil,
featured in Pencil Archaeology


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