How it all began...
Arthur Probsthain started to work at the publisher Otto Harrassowitz in Germany at the age of 21. Harraossowitz is a very well known publisher of academic books, including a large collection of books on the Orient. After 4 years he went to France and worked with the publisher Geuthner where he widened his knowledge and experience in the publishing field.
In 1902 he moved to London and decided to open a bookshop, which is where the story of Arthur Probsthain Bookseller & Publisher began. At first he found some premises in Bury Place, Bloomsbury, where he opened as a bookseller. After a year he relocated the business to 41 Great Russell Street (a four storey building) and here he developed the business into a publisher as well. Arthur Probsthain studied the languages of the Orient, such as Chinese, Persian and Arabic and began compiling a very comprehensive collection of catalogues and books on these languages and countries.
Arthur Probsthain then started publishing a series of books on Chinese philosophy and literature, such as 'A Brief History of Chinese Philosophy', and ' The I-Li ' Book of Etiquette and Ceromonies. As the business started to grow and Arthur Probsthain needed more help he brought in his nephew Walter Sheringham who had just recently immigrated from Germany during the First World War. Walter Sheringham was just a young man at the time and brought some new enthusiasm to the business.
When Arthur Probsthain passed away he left the bookshop with Walter Sheringham to continue the business.
How Arthur Prosbthain developed to be one of the leading Oriental & African Booksellers in the world...
So in 1941 Walter Sheringham became the sole proprietor of the Arthur Probsthain Bookseller & Publisher. Walter Sheringham having worked under his Uncle, had gained an interest in the Oriental field. For the first few years he began to widen the field to cover the whole of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. By doing this he increased the volume of stock significantly. He did this by buying collections from independent dealers and libraries from all over the world. In 1943 Walter Sheringham married Eve, who then became involved with the shop. Between them they produced monthy catalogues of the new and forthcoming titles on all the subject areas. These were then distributed to scholars, researchers, universities, museums and book collectors. This helped Arthur Probsthain build a reputation as one of the main booksellers/ distributors of books in this field. Customers would come in for both new and old books knowing that if it was available it would be in Probsthain's.
As the years passed both Walter and Eve gained a huge amount of knowledge on the subjects of the books and would then recommend and discuss this with their regular customers. In the 1970's Walter and Eve's two children Michael and Lesley, after attending University both became involved in the shop. With the help of both Michael and Lesley, Arthur Probsthain continued to expand. They did this by collaborating with publishers and having a retail presence at International conferences, exhibitions and talks in the oriental field. This also led to the opening of our branch at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Walter Sheringham continued working until the age of 89 but passed away 1994 but the family business carried on...
Arthur Probsthain Bookseller today...
2007 - Today, Arthur Probsthain remains as one of the leading Oriental & African Booksellers in the world.
The main shop with the help of Lesley's two sons, Tim and Christopher, has recently been redecorated after many years, and has now a new look but also a new direction. We now focus our stock on the arts and cultures of the Orient, Africa and The Middle East. We now display and sell a collection of Art as well.
The SOAS Bookshop, managed by Joe Burridge, specialises in the politics, history and economics of the same areas.
Eve Sheringham still works on the catalogues of new and forthcoming titles and they are still distributed throughout the world.
We now have a collection of old memorabilia (pictures, articles, and catalogue covers) displayed around the shop.
All our antiquarian and out of print books are now sold online.
So if you are interested in old books or new books on art, music, film, philosophy, religion, literature, poetry, politics, history, economics, languages...Arthur Probsthain remains after more than a hundred years one of the leaders in this field.