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Christopher Nolan author chooses Abbey Books Paisley

on 16 June 2024 0

Christopher Priest, the author who is best-known for providing the source novel for The Prestige by Christopher Nolan donates 2,000 books

Abbey Books manager Brian Hannan was astonished to see a giant delivery truck draw up outside the premises in Wellmeadow Street last week. He was even more surprised when the contents were unloaded. For the shop had just received its biggest-ever donation of around 2,000 books and from its most famous donor – Bute-based award-winning author Christopher Priest.

Priest is best-known for providing the source novel for what many considered the best film by Oscar-winning film director Christopher Nolan, titled The Prestige. Released in 2006 with a top-notch cast of actors who later played movie superheroes – Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, 2008), Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine, 2013) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow, 2021) – this tale of rival stage magicians in the 19th century, was a box office smash and one of the author’s greatest success. The author, a titan of the British sci-world, died in February, aged 80.

I was gobsmacked to see box after box of books being carried into the shop,” said Hannan. “We didn’t know where to put them and had to clear an area in front of the till as well as stack them in the office.

We already have 40,000 books so we’re hardly desperate for more stock, but this was an offer we could not refuse. For an author so well-known as Christopher Priest to choose us as the recipient of his massive library was an honor.

It’s not the first time we’ve received an entire library. We were given over 500 books from the library of Professor J.T Ward, who was Professor of Modern History at Strathclyde University.

One of the most interesting aspects of running a secondhand bookshop is the donations. You are peering into someone else’s world and life. The books someone collects says a lot about a person and even myself, who has vast experience of the general world of books as an author and in running the bookshop, never knows what to expect. I often find myself lost in books I never knew existed and subjects that were new to me.

I couldn’t be happier knowing I have over 50 boxes of books, all sealed, to dip into and not knowing what I’ll turn up. Certainly, there will be copies of Christopher Priest’s own books including The Glamour, The Inverted World and The Separation.”

An author always leaves a very physical legacy. Priest’s wife Nina Allan, herself an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, said it best. “A writer’s soul is immortal, instantly present and accessible through the stories, essays, criticism and novels they have left for us to find. In this most important and essential of ways, he will always be with us.”

Priest also wrote a book, The Magic, about the making of The Prestige, which offers many insights into world of filmmaking.

Priest was a giant in the sci-fi world. Four of his books – The Inverted World (1974), Extremes (1998), The Separation (2002) and The Islanders (2011) – won the British Science Fiction Association Book of the Year Award and he was nominated for this major award three other times. The Prestige (1995) won the World Fantasy Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Award. His books also won the Campbell Award (plus two nominations), the Clarke Award (also plus two nominations), and he was nominated for the Hugo Award.

In every sense he was one of biggest names in British science fiction, fittingly ranked alongside his heroes like Brian Aldiss.”

As well as Priest’s own books, his library contains novels by other famous writers like Brian Aldiss and demonstrated his wide interest in other subjects. In the bookshop Hannan has set aside his biggest window to make a display of both Priest’s books and a small selection from his library. He has also allocated one complete bookcase and two other display areas inside the shop for the collection.

It’s like Xmas,” said Hannan. “And every box contains multiple presents. I’ve just opened one box and found it full of first editions of Enid Blyton, The Hardy Boys and Billy Bunter. I can’t wait to open the rest. And I couldn’t resist the temptation to start reading and re-reading Priest’s own books. I’m already one-third of the way through the enthralling The Prestige. I can see why Christopher Nolan was inspired by it.

By the time I’ve finished opening all the boxes we may well become a mecca for sci-fi fans.”

Abbey Books, 21 Wellmeadow Street, Paisley PA1 2EF. Contact Brian via in**@ab***************.uk“>email or visit the website.

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