Leaving school at 14, he worked for a printer in his native Rochdale. In London he became involved in socialist politics, and was a conscientious objector during World War II. Largely an autodidact, he taught himself bookselling, ultimately establishing a series of successful west London shops. He specialized in subject collections, which were then sold en bloc to university libraries throughout the world. In 1969 he and his wife bought Lilies, a large house at Weedon (Buckinghamshire), which they restored and opened as an extensive second-hand and antiquarian bookshop and museum.
From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.