Oxfam Bookshop, Petergate York

This is the blog for the Oxfam Book Shop on Low Petergate in York



7 things you probably didn’t know about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein


This month sees the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Originally entitled, The Modern Prometheus, it is a story that many people know, or think they know.

For example people often assume that Frankenstein is the name of the monster, when it actually refers to the monster’s creator, Victor Frankenstein.  But how many of these facts were you aware of?

  1.  Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she wrote the book, and just 20 years old when it was published.
  2. It was originally published anonymously in 1818.  Five years later it was published under her own name.
  3. Mary Shelley was made a widow when her husband, poet Percy Byshe Shelley drowned at sea.  She was just 24 years old.
  4. Frankenstein was written while she and her husband were staying with poet, Lord Byron in Geneva.  Byron has set his guests the challenge of writing a horror story.
  5. Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein after the image of a man kneeling beside his hideous stretched out creation, came to her in a dream.
  6. The depiction of the monster with bolts in his neck began in the 1931 film, Frankenstein.
  7. Frankenstein has featured in well over 55 films and continues to be replicated on screen and throughout popular culture, becoming an enduring horror character.

So if you fancy delving into this classic gothic horror novel, why not pop along to your local Oxfam book shop to see if they have a copy.

At Oxfam Books Petergate in York, this copy was recently spotted lurking in the shadows of the Classics section.

Pop in to see us at 69 Low Petergate, York or have a look for all things Frankenstein at Oxfam Online.


In-Store Spotlight: Henry James

If you’ve visited our store over the last few weeks, you may have noticed our display dedicated to American author, Henry James.


Henry James (1843-1916) relocated to Europe as a young man, achieving British Citizenship in 1915, one year before his death. Many of his novels deal with the social interplay between Americans, Brits, and central European characters, in novels such as The Portrait of A Lady, The Ambassadors, and The Wings of the Dove. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature three times, in 1911, 1912, and 1916.


As well as some beautiful leather-bound and early hardcover editions perfect for any collectors shelves, we also have many paperback editions of James’ work, perfect for dipping your toe into his engaging and exciting novels.


You may have also heard radio play adaptations of some of James’ more famous works this summer on BBC Radio 4, showing how much his novels are still relevant and talked about today.

We’re also currently looking for more donations of classic literature in store – find out more here.

Book Signing with John Spencer – Saturday 15th July

Flinton PressWe are delighted to welcome Hull based children’s author, John Spencer to our shop on Saturday 15th July from 10am to 2pm.

He will be signing and selling his books – this is a great opportunity to meet him and pick up some of his pocket money priced books.  The Facebook event can be found here

Foppo the Bear


We also have our free activity books for kids as well as parrots to colour in which we will be hanging up in our children’s area.

While you are here you can check out our great range of books – both for children and adults.  We look forward to seeing you!

In Store Book of the Week: The Business by Iain Banks

The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn’t. 

This week our glass cabinet has been restocked, and features railways books and a directory of York from 1957, full of cool adverts. It also had, until yesterday, two signed Iain Banks novels, The Business and Against a Dark Background. Against a Dark Background has now been sold, which is fantastic as it has helped to provide clean water for 120 people!! So a huge thank you to the proud new owner.

We do still have The Business which is also a signed first edition! Delve into the world of The Business, an ancient and powerful multinational corporation, and follow Kate Thelman as she investigates theft and oversees the acquisition of a country. A combined love story, contemporary science fiction masterpiece and tale of discovery, this novel travels the world and explores issues central to modern life, from technology to the relationship between business and politics (perhaps particularly relevant in the wake of the Davos Conference).

The Business is in the Petergate store and on sale for £70 (that’s equal to giving 70 people clean water).

Helen Fielding is awarded an honorary degree from the University of York

On July 13th the creator of the unforgettable Bridget Jones was awarded an honorary degree at The University of York.

2In a survey conducted by The Guardian, Bridget Jones’s Diary was named as one of the ten novels that best defined the 20th century, and its author has often been credited with establishing the literary genre now known as “chicklit”, one of the most successful genre in today’s fiction industry.

Helen Fielding.jpg

Born in Morley, West Yorkshire, in 1958, the author and screenwriter attended Wakefield Girls’ High School before studying English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Working as a BBC Regional Researcher in 1979, she wrote and produced documentaries in Africa for Comic Relief fundraising broadcasts, and in 1989 was involved in a documentary about the South Sudan War, forming the basis for her first novel Cause Celeb (1994).

She was later approached by The Independent to write a column as herself about single life in London. Fielding created instead the exaggerated and comic character that was to make her famous. The column was only a way to finance another novel about a fictional country in Africa, but when the people started praising the column, her identity was revealed and her publishers asked her to set aside her novel in progress to publish a novel on Bridget Jones instead.

Bridget jones

The novel was based on an outline of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and even features a Mr Darcy, as all readers have noticed.

pride-prejudice-book-1           Persuasion-by-Jane-Austen

Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (based on the outline of Jane Austen’s Persuasionwere published in 40 countries and sold more than 15 million copies. Their film adaptations, with Fielding on the scriptwriting team, achieved worldwide success and a third Bridget Jones novel, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy was published in 2013.

A third film, Bridget Jones’s Baby – based on Helen’s 2006 columns in The Independent and bridging the gap between the second and the third Bridget Jones novels – is scheduled for release in September 2016. A book will also accompany the film!


Upon receiving her degree, the new Doctor honoris causa said: “This means a lot to me because I, and Bridget Jones I suppose, grew up in Yorkshire. My values were formed here in Yorkshire. And also some areas of myself – which are happily concealed beneath these lovely robes – which are made up of Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips, various large based desserts and cakes from Betty’s café.”


For Helen Fielding, Yorkshire’s values are, amongst other things, about “bringing things down to earth with a laugh, and a sense that nothing, and no one, is perfect.”

She added in a quite moving second half of her speech: “we’re all human and flawed and we’re all able to laugh at ourselves. One of the tricks to being successful in life is knowing how to fail and get up again. As long as we all keep our sense of humour about ourselves, then we’ll all be alright.” Those words seem to sum up Bridget Jones’ message to us.


Watch the video of Helen Fielding’s receiving her honorary degree.

So why don’t you come and get your own copy of one of Helen Fielding’s novels at our shop?


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