John Hart

John Hart
This is my study, a converted brick and flint barn from the 1800s, situated near Holt in North Norfolk. I moved here in 2006 because I needed more space, particularly for my books; at any one time I have around 2,000 volumes on the shelves. When I am not travelling, I spend about half my working day here, cataloguing the stock.

When I am very fond of something I am often reluctant to let it go. But selling my books is the name of the game: I have found that if you sell something nice, another lovely piece will come along quite quickly.

I deal in rare antiquarian books, diaries and manuscripts, particularly those from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I have been doing this for twenty-five years, and I love the detective work involved. Once I found a diary written by Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Knight, in the 1790s. It was a rather dull read, but a great object.

My best find was an angry letter written by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which he had later regretted and suppressed. Everybody thought it had been lost, but I discovered a printed proof copy in a pile of papers at a book fair. Academics were ecstatic.

 Doe Barn, Front Street, Binham, Norfolk, NR21 0AL