Poet Adrian Mitchell’s widow closes Highgate bookshop Ripping Yarns due to rent hike

A beloved secondhand bookshop has been forced to close because of a rent hike totalling tens of thousands of pounds.

Ripping Yarns in Archway Road, Highgate, will sell its last book on September 20 after more than 30 years in business under the ownership of actress Celia Mitchell, the widow of the late poet Adrian Mitchell.

She had planned to retire when her lease expired in 2018, but was forced to shut when she was suddenly issued with a huge rent increase two months ago that would double the amount she is paying currently.

She said: “It would have a lot easier to go out slowly and let the stock run down naturally. It’s been a bit of a rush. It’s very hard work. I have people helping me, but it’s very sad.

“I feel like I’ve had Adrian die, and my golden retriever die and now the shop is closing, it’s like a third death in the family.”


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The shop, which has been a bookshop since the Second World War, is now up for let.

Ms Mitchell will continue to run the business online, and will still specialise in rare and beautiful children’s books and poetry collections.

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She took on the shop in the late 1970s and among guests at a glamorous press opening night were Monty Python stars Michael Palin and Terry Jones – after whose Ripping Yarns TV show the store was named.

Ms Mitchell said she has been struggling to pay the bookshop’s rent for some years since the popularity of Amazon and e-books began to soar over the last decade.

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