In the beginning
"You won’t find this a very noble story. I used to live in Italy and not do very much, except a bit of translating. One year I was over for Ascot and met by accident the Italian correspondent for a magazine called The British Race Horse. He appeared to be a total lunatic. At a lunch party that day I met - again by chance - the man who ran the magazine and asked him if the other chap was indeed a complete prat. ‘Yes’, he said, ‘I’ve just had the most frightful row with him and I'm longing to sack him’, which he did and I got the job.
I was married to an Italian at the time, a Veneziana. We got married in San Giorgio Maggiore and eventually divorced in Florence. In 1982 I came back to England, thinking it would be easy to get a job in Mrs Thatcher’s Britain. As I had just won £4,500 in the Arc de Triomphe, there was no particular hurry. Time went by and I began to think that it would be nice to work for a wine company. So I wrote to various people, saying ‘I like drinking and speak Italian. Why don’t you employ me?’"
John Francis Phillimore in conversation with Sheila Markham
The Twenty Thousand Pound Question
A genial British expat, John Francis Phillimore, has opened Old World Books
"A genial British expat, John Francis Phillimore, has opened Old World Books on Campo Ghetto Vecchio. It is a goldmine for anyone looking for antiquarian books in English on Venice."
The Observer, Sunday 4 May 2008
John Francis and "Sex and the Sonnet" in Venice
I was in Venice this past weekend at the kind invitation of John Francis Phillimore, the "genial British expat" who has Old World Books, a wonderful antiquarian bookstore in the Gheto Vechio. John Francis also publishes a series of limited edition poetry broadsides/plaquettes, in which he has just included the first five of my Bar Napkin Sonnets. And since it was National Poetry Day in the UK last week, he invited me to come up and read some naughty sonnets. "Sex and the Sonnet" in Venice: a match made in heaven.
There's a really lively group of polyglot Venetians and expats who meet once a month to discuss things literary, and they were an extremely fun audience. Damiano wasn't able to come along with me this time, so John Francis asked Anna, an absolutely lovely lady, if she would read the Italian version of several of the poems. She did a terrific job, and it was interesting for me to hear the poems read in a feminine voice for the first time. And she didn't flinch, not even when "Millay [Went] Down."
from Venetian Ventures, by Moira Egan
He may offer you a glass of prosecco
Old World Books. The Ghetto, on the bridge to the left of Ghetto Novo. This is an excellent second-hand bookshop which specialises in books about Venice and Italy. Books are in English and Italian, as well as some 16th century books published in Latin and Italian. Categories include the Jews in Venice, art, fiction, history, politics, art, philosophy, religion, and much more. Say hello to John Francis Phillimore, the proprietor. Phone: 041 275 9456. email: firstname.lastname@example.org He may offer you a glass of prosecco. Closed for lunch and on Saturdays and Sundays.
if you want to see his face look click here
if you want to find his bookshop look at this map created in my travel diary by Matteo Donazzon, friend of mine and customer of John Francis Phillimore