Monday, April 2, 2007


Here we are in our 24th year! The major change since inception, when we were located in Smith Street, firstly on the Collingwood side of the street, next to the Last Laugh Restaurant, and then on the Fitzroy side, near to the Birmingham pub on the corner, has been the dissolution of the collective with which the Shop began. I should say, the last of the Collective since from the beginning there were always members dropping out. We were in Smith Street from '84 to end of '86 when we removed to the interim address of the maison Hemensley in Urquhart Street, Westgarth. The Shop's founder, Rob Kenny, had just vacated the loft at the bottom of the small suburban property and this allowed young Tim Hemensley to take it over and for the Shop to install its shelves in his little bedroom! I wonder what the post office thought as they delivered boxes & sacks of books from local & overseas suppliers! Viewings were on Tuesdays when yours truly was always home. Happily in 1987 the Hemensleys' acquaintance from New Theatre days of the late 1960s, Mark Edmonds of Book Affair, suggested the shop rent a space along the corridor of the 1st Floor at Flinders Way Arcade where his second-hand bookshop was situated. He'd also interested Arthur Hyland to set up the latest incarnation of Hyland's Military & Transport Bookshop on the corridor. Very soon there were three bookshops in the Arcade, later joined, tho for varying lengths of time, by Sainsbury's Secondhand, Santo's Sports Books, and briefly stores run by Paul Perry (ex- City Basement) & David Williams (whose Alchemical Vision bookshop stocked Jungian literature). Ah, those were the days! (Though, who ever realizes at the time?)
We enjoyed 12 years at Flinders Way Arcade before the property developers moved us on. Hylands & Collected Works moved to one of the Council of Adult Education's basements, at 256 Flinders Street, opposite Flinders Street Station, and were there in the damp & gloom (only joking!) from 1999 to the end of 2002. Another gang of developers moved us on again, this time to our present home on the 1st floor of the Nicholas Building at 37 Swanston Street on the corner of Swanston & Flinders Lane. You could say that since we moved to the City in 1987, we've managed to stay on the block of Flinders Lane & Flinders Street. And though we're officially at 37 Swanston, I feel we're back home in the Lane again!
I'll add to this COLLECTED WORKS BOOKSHOP HISTORY from time to time. Enough at this point to welcome visitors to the blog and also invite visitors to the bookshop in the famous Nicholas Building. One quick story though : the late, lamented Vali Myers told us ,when we were in the Basement at 256 Flinders, that we should get out of there ("darling") and come up to her building, the Nicholas. We had no idea that this would ever happen but circumstances led us there! An enormous shame then that Vali died before she could visit us on the first floor.
C'est la vie.

--Kris Hemensley, April 2nd, 2007

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