Death of Hampstead literary legend
PUBLISHED: 11:49 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:27 07 September 2010
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Ben McPartland A leading light on the Hampstead literary scene has died aged 82. Ian Norrie, who ran the legendary High Hill bookshop on Hampstead High Street for more than 30 years, died on Saturday after a short illness. His bookshop, which was an inst
A leading light on the Hampstead literary scene has died aged 82.
Ian Norrie, who ran the legendary High Hill bookshop on Hampstead High Street for more than 30 years, died on Saturday after a short illness.
His bookshop, which was an institution in the village, hosted infamous book launches for numerous luminaries, and was finally closed amid much sadness in 1988.
As well as being one of the most well-known independent booksellers Mr Norrie was also an author in his own right having written a number of books, including his autobiography The Business of Lunch, which was published earlier this year.
Martyn Goff, who spent 35 years as an administrator for the Booker Prize, shared a friendship with Mr Norrie for over 60 years.
Mr Norrie was also a member of the management committee for the Booker Prize.
Mr Goff said: "I first met Ian just after I had opened my first bookshop in St Leonards-on-Sea. He came in as a customer regularly and one day he complained that he did not like his job as a reporter because he did not find it interesting.
"I asked him what he would like to do and he said 'I would love to work in a book shop' so I replied 'well you can have a job here' and that was the start of it. He and I would write to each other around once a week - he really was an important bookseller and contributed a great deal."
Outside the world of books Mr Norrie would enjoy spending time on his other passions - theatre, travel and cricket.
Gerald Isaaman, former editor of the Ham&High, was a close friend.
He said: "We fought many of the same battles, notably over Camden Council's wish to sell off Burgh House, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, and in supporting the early Hampstead Theatre Club, now the Hampstead Theatre, which this month is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
"His love of Hampstead was also expressed in the books and guides he published on the area.
"His passion for literature was expressed in the book reviews he wrote for the Ham&High.
"He was a man who refused to suffer fools and was always prepared to hit out at whatever he disagreed with, and those who knew him admired his courage in taking on whatever foes were there to be fought."
Tributes were also left on literary websites this week by former friends and family.
The funeral for Mr Norrie, whose wife Mavis died in 1998, will take place at Golders Green Crematorium on Thursday September 24 at midday.
He leaves two daughters and the family have suggested donations can be made to the North London Hospice instead of flowers.