William Pryor is co-owner of Bookbarn International. The great-great grandson of Charles Darwin, he is also the author of the addiction memoir 'Survival of the Coolest', published in 2003.

We asked William some questions about his life in books.


Name your favourite book. 

To sound pompous: Ludwig Wittgenstein’s 'Philosophical Investigations' – which is the delightfully impenetrable foundation of Linguistic Philosophy. “If a lion could talk, we would not understand him.”

And to sound positively nepotistic: My grandmother Gwen Raverat’s timeless classic 'Period Piece', which was recently released in a beautiful Folio Society slip-cased edition.


By which author have you read the most books?

Either Samuel Becket in my youth or Philip K Dick in my middle age.


What are you currently reading?

'Prussian Blue' by Philip Kerr.


What's the best book nobody knows about?

Brunel’s 'Great Eastern' – a long out of print tragedy of Victorian hubris as the man battled ill fortune.


Where is the best place to read?

In bed.


What's the longest book you've read?

I would like to say War & Peace, but I haven’t done it. So: 'Shantaram' by David Roberts.


Do you have a favourite quote from a book?

Virginia Woolf writing to my grandfather (in Virginia Woolf and the Raverats): “Is your art as chaotic as ours? I feel that for us writers the only chance now is to go out into the desert & peer about, like devoted scape­goats, for some sign of a path.”


Is there a book you regret reading?

I would have dropped it within a paragraph of its life, so no.


What is your worst reading habit?

Having more than four books “on the go”...


Roughly how many books do you own?

I would say 2 or 3 thousand, but we have cleared out a lot to that wonderful institution, Bookbarn International.


You can read more about Bookbarn International by clicking here.