Politician’s book collection on sale in village shop

Much Ado books, Alfriston SUS-160427-000307008

Much Ado books, Alfriston SUS-160427-000307008

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The astonishing library of books collected by Denis and Edna Healey has been acquired by a bookshop in their home village of Alfriston.

Co-owner of Much Ado Books Nash Robbins said: “You will find their books in almost every section at Much Ado over the coming months.”

Denis Healey, who died last year, was sometimes described as ‘the best prime minister Britain never had.’ He was proud of his ‘hinterland’ - his interests apart from politics - and he included his book collection in that description.

The titles ranged over every subject but focused particularly on his passion for opera, music (he was an accomplished pianist) and painting. The library also had an extensive number of volumes about the Bloomsbury Group, photography, the life of Charles Darwin and poetry. Bookshelves dominated one room in their Alfriston home, now on the market.

Denis Healey was a beachmaster at the Allied landings at Anzio and twice mentioned in despatches. From 1964-66 he served as Defence Secretary in Harold Wilson’s Labour government and later as Chancellor under Callaghan from 1974-79. Sharp witted and fast on his feet, he once likened being verbally attacked by Geoffrey Howe as ‘being savaged by a dead sheep.’ But he confessed it was his family and his interests which shared top billing with politics.

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