Mr Selfridge & the book bound in human skin

SELFRIDGES 1920SSelfridge’s window display 1920s (

Writer Arnold Bennett was a well known celebrity in London by the 1920s and often recorded his encounters with the rich and powerful in his journals. This one has stuck in my mind. Not sure if will feature in the Mr Selfridge TV series one day…

Thursday 26th March 1925

I was walking in Selfridge’s basement yesterday afternoon, idling between two appointments, when I met Selfridge in rather old morning suit and silk hat. He at once seized hold of me and showed me over a lot of the new part of his store. Cold-storage for furs – finest in the world. Basement hall 550 feet long. Sub-basement with a very cheap restaurant where they serve 3,000 to 4,000 customers a day. He introduced me to the head of his baby-linen department..Then up his own private lift to the offices and his room, where I had to scratch my name with a diamond on the window – with lots of others. He showed me a lot of accounting. Then downstairs to book department. Fine bindings, etc. His first remark was, taking up a book: “Human skin.” I had to hurry away. He kept insisting that it was wonderfully interesting. And it was.

My documentary Arnold of the Five Towns available to listen/download here (originally broadcast BBC Radio 4 June 23rd 2014)

About samiraahmed

Journalist. Writer. Broadcaster.
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10 Responses to Mr Selfridge & the book bound in human skin

  1. Colin says:

    You can always depend on Arnold for a good story! Looking forward to the documentary. I wonder if our man Bennett is on the verge of a comeback?

    • samiraahmed says:

      I think there’s a quite a lot of literary supporters now, but a “comeback”? I don’t know. Maybe a new TV dramatisation would make all the difference.

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