Obituary: Robert Vaughan

Robert Vaughan, antiquarian bookseller: born Llanarvon-Yn-Ial, Denbighshire 17 January 1923; married 1955 Colleen Hubbard; died Stratford-upon-Avon 27 June 1994.

ROBERT VAUGHAN enjoyed two successful careers, the first as a theatrical manager and the second as an antiquarian bookseller.

Born in a tiny village in Denbighshire where his father was headmaster, he was educated at Ruthin School, near Mold. It was at first intended that he should become a doctor, but quite early in his study of medicine he found that the physical aspects of a doctor's life, the over-close acquaintance with blood and internal organs, were not for him, and he resolved instead to work in the theatre.

He was fortunate enough to get a job at the Old Vic, but soon reached the conclusion that he would not excel as an actor. He therefore turned to administration. He managed one of HM Tennent's companies, and went on to work in similar capacities for George and Alfred Black and later for Toby Rowland.

In 1963 he and his wife Colleen, who gave up a career as a dancer when the couple married in 1955, moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, where he became manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He served a term as Chairman of the Stage Management Association and sat on various Arts Council committees concerned with the training of arts administrators and theatre technicians. Policy disagreements at the RSC caused him to resign in 1976, to devote his time to bookselling.

Himself a book-collector of long standing, Vaughan had occasionally sold items from his collection when necessity demanded. He found, as others have done before and since, that in terms of price there can be a big difference between buying and selling. Taking the view that if you couldn't beat them you should join them, he became a part-time bookseller in 1953. Thereafter, from various addresses in and around London, he had traded by catalogue, and with collectors and dealers who visited his home by appointment. His stock then was almost exclusively confined to first editions of the 19th century and to good English literature in general. From the earliest days, fine condition was a hallmark of his books.

When he and Colleen opened a shop in Stratford, just a few hundred yards from the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, it was natural to add to the general English literature a strong section of Shakespeare studies and, in time, Robert Vaughan became arguably the world's leading specialist in that field, with collectors and librarians from all over the globe beating a path, if not to his door, then certainly to his letter-box. Those who visited his premises can bear witness to the fact that, unusually for a bookshop, they were preternaturally tidy and astonishingly free from dust. As one competitor remarked of the stock, 'Every book was interesting. Every book was worth reading.'

Vaughan played a full part in the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, serving on its Committee for many years and acting as its President from 1988 to 1990. During his term of office, his diplomatic skills and his unfailing courtesy stood him in good stead. In a trade not noted for sartorial elegance, he stood out by being always immaculately dressed. Whether in a dark suit to conduct an annual general meeting or in less formal attire on a motoring holiday in a warm climate, he always presented a band-box appearance. His expertise and integrity were widely respected by his colleagues as well as by his customers. His wife survives him and the business will continue.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference