zelda launch

matthew caley

Another fabulous evening had with Matthew Caley and his new collection of poetry: Trawlerman’s Turquoise


It was an absolute treat having the Queen of South London herself, Candice Carty-Williams, come into the shop to sign copies of her best-selling book QUEENIE.

gale burns evening

gale burns

mute house

FRIDAY 17th MAY 2019

rachel reeves evening

rachel reeves evening 1

wordweek-slider2 (2)claire adam


January 5th 2019

BOOK launch and signing

John Langridge


Sirilak Wichianpaisan, Cook Thai at Home

Cook Thai at home


Photographs by Alex Bartsch, edited and designed

by Al Newman


Elizabeth Mundy In Strangers’ Houses

In Strangers Houses

In the first book of the Lena Szarka Series, Lena, a Hungarian cleaner, discovers her friend Timea has disappeared and she suspects one of her clients is to blame. However, the police don’t share her suspicions and it’s left to Lena to turn sleuth and find her friend.

ARCHIVE events website

September 28th 2017 @ 7.30pm
Judith Barrett
Out of the Fire: A Tale of the Jews of York

out of the fire poster

June 30th 2017 @ 8pm
Jonathan Coe

in conversation with

Matthew Sweet


March 1st 2017 @ 7.30pm

Paul Treacy’s
SE26: A Photographic Talk

 Local photographer and visual storyteller, Paul Treacy, talking us through his fascinating working life, eventually leading him all the way back here to Sydenham.

 February 22nd 2017, 7.30pm


Art Exhibition – Parallel Parables 


 We  loved exhibiting the work of Bethe Bronson, Amelia Critchlow, Suzanne de Emmony and Laura Marker as part of our 50th birthday celebrations.

Wednesday December 7th 2016

Rachel Reeves
Alice in Westminster
The Political Life of Alice Bacon


We were joined by Rachel Reeves MP who presented her new book  Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon.

Alice Bacon was elected Labour MP for Leeds North East in the historic 1945 General Election and rose through the ranks over the succeeding years.
This was a time of intense social change, and Alice was directly involved in much of the legislation which permanently altered the country. This book tells her story – from the coalfields to the Commons!

Rachel Reeves was elected to represent Leeds West (neighbouring Alice Bacon’s constituency) in 2010. She is also a lifelong Sydenham resident and an alumna of Cator Park School.

(R.R.P £20)


November 12th

Sophie Ambrose

The Lonely Giant


In the middle of a vast forest lives a giant who spends his days hurling and heaving, smashing and bashing. Over time, the animals flee as their homes vanish, the birdsong dwindles away to silence, and, finally, the forest itself disappears. Now the lonely giant misses the crackling warmth of a fire and the sweet songs of the
yellow bird — but will he realize it’s up to him to restore what he loves?

Book Launch:
Thursday 15th September 2016

The Life Assistance Agency Thomas Hocknell

Launch of The Life Assistance Agency, the first novel from Thomas Hocknell – coincidentally a local resident. The evening included drinks, a short reading by the author and a book signing!

(Paperback £8.99)

Poems, Pictures, and, Popcorn

Children’s Poetry at Kirkdale Bookshop

Read a poem!
Draw a picture!
Listen and enjoy!

Saturday 9th July

10.30am – 12pm & 2.30 – 4pm

Come and share your favourite children’s poems

All ages welcome


Authors at

Women & Vote pbk


An illustrated talk by

Jad Adams

Friday 24th June 2016


Thrilling, and sometimes heartbreaking, stories of eight women who worked for political rights in Africa, Latin America, India, Australasia and Europe.

These brave and inspiring life stories of women’s suffrage pioneers – often fighting terrible odds – reveal startling new connections across time and national boundaries.

Jad Adams is a historian based in Forest Hill. He has written books about Tony Benn, Gandhi, Kipling and the history of absinthe.

Signed copies can be reserved on request.

Kirkdale Bookshop Book Group

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout

Wednesday 18th May 2016

Join us on Wednesday 18th May to discuss Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge. Formed of interlinked stories set in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine, Olive Kitteridge develops a quiet, penetrating portrait of its eponymous character and those around her.
‘So astonishingly good that I shall be reading it once a year for the foreseeable future and very probably
for the rest of my life.’
Evening Standard Books of the Year
‘Strout animates the ordinary with astonishing force. . . . [She] makes us experience not only the terrors of change but also the terrifying hope that change can bring: she plunges us into these churning waters and we come up gasping for air.’
—The New Yorker

Wednesday 23rd March, 7.30pm


Émile Zola


Zola’s masterpiece of working life, Germinal (1885), exposes the inhuman conditions of miners in northern France in the 1860s. By Zola’s death in 1902 it had come to symbolise the call for freedom from oppression so forcefully that the crowd which gathered at his State funeral chanted ‘Germinal! Germinal!’.
The central figure, Etienne Lantier, is an outsider who enters the community and eventually leads his fellow-miners in a strike protesting against pay-cuts – a strike which becomes a losing battle against starvation, repression, and sabotage. Yet despite all the violence and disillusion which rock the mining community to its foundations, Lantier retains his belief in the ultimate germination of a new society, leading to a better world.


Join us for the fourth in our series of concerts.


Tuesday 15th March 2016



An evening of live folk music with Solasta, the newly formed trio of cellist Hannah Thomas, award-winning fiddler Elisabeth Flett and guitarist Jamie Leeming.

With guest Mollie Lopresti on cajón.

Tickets: £10.00 / £8.00 concession (includes a glass of wine).


Tel: 020 8778 4701

272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, SE26 4RS

poetry at kirkdale bookshop

Matthew Caley launches his fifth collection, Rake (Bloodaxe).

Thursday 25th February 2016



Matthew’s début, Thirst, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His subsequent work, most recently the collection Apparently, has been met with great acclaim.

Rake is a spell-binding look at a social type which ought to be more familiar than it is, given today’s headlong drive to dissolution. Travelling across time and space, from ancient Egypt to the Wild West, these poems offer landscapes of desire and excess. Matthew Caley is a chameleon of poetic style and this collection is perfectly pitched between euphoria and desolation.

Matthew will be reading from Rake and signing copies of the book (available from us at £9.95).

‘Formally outrageous, culturally light-fingered, Caley’s vision and wit make for poems that turn a wondrous, great lamp on the inter-relatedness of all things. An important poet.’ – John Stammers

‘Gleeful cultural cannibalism. Hauntingly lovely, immaculately constructed. Apparently is one of those collections which makes you see the world as suddenly more complex, strange and fascinating.’ – Imogen Robertson, Poetry Book Society Online

‘Satirically playful, self-parodic, yes, but unable to conceal an emotional intelligence that lends depth and vulnerability to Caley’s voice even at moments of humour.’ – Jane Holland, Poetry Review

‘The most inventive user of the sonnet form currently writing.’ – Laurie Smith, Magma

Tickets: £3.00 (redeemable against book)


272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, SE26 4RS

Tel: 020 8778 4701

Authors at

headshot1Gaia Vince

author of

Adventures in the Anthropocene

Winner of the

2015 Royal Society Winton

Prize for Science Books

Wednesday 27th January 2016


Growing evidence from around the globe leaves little doubt that we are living in a permanently changed world; a new geological age defined by the activities and industry of our own species. Scientists call this the Anthropocene: the Age of Humans.

What can we do to ensure that humanity can survive and thrive in this new age?

Gaia Vince has travelled the world to see just how people at the sharp end of these changes are developing new strategies for survival. The result is a book whose message is positive – we aren’t necessarily doomed, but we need to rethink our relationship with the biosphere.

Gaia will be reading from the book and will be happy to sign copies after the event. (You can reserve a signed copy if you can’t make it.)

Between Heaven & Earth

Journey into an extraordinary sound world

Wednesday 19th August 2015

Doors: 7.30pm

trio of Simon, jeff and Michael copy

Local artist and performer Jeff Higley has played for many years with multiinstrumentalist/overtone singer Michael Ormiston and flautist Simon Desorgher of Colourscape. This unique performance features singing bowls, gongs, waterphone, bass flute, Mongolian horse-head fiddle, Indonesian anklungs, and Central Asian vocal overtone singing. Plus special guest.

The second in our new series of concerts promises to be haunting, beguiling and sometimes challenging.

beastlySATURDAY JULY 11th 2015

We are very excited to welcome John Kelly to Kirkdale Bookshop for a special Sydenham Arts Festival event, where he will be reading from his latest book “The Beastly Pirates” – and accompanying the reading with live artwork!John is an acclaimed illustrator and author of books for children. He has twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway prize – and he lives round the corner!




As part of the Sydenham Arts Festival and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we are holding a special storytime and lots of games and activities. Come along and try crazy croquet, the dormouse and teapot game, pin the smile on the Cheshire Cat, and more!
Children are encouraged to dress as their favourite Wonderland character!

Any donations of cakes and jam tarts would be welcome!

…and watch out for the White Rabbit.

aliceSATURDAY JULY 4th 2015

Special Storytime with
The Queen of Hearts
& The Mad Hatter.

Crazy Croquet,
Dormouse & Teapot Game,
Pin the Smile on the Cheshire Cat,
Spot the Difference, Wordsearch,
Colouring, & more!

beastlySATURDAY JULY 11TH 2015

We are very excited to welcome John Kellyto Kirkdale Bookshop for a special Sydenham Arts Festival event, where he will be reading from his latest book “The Beastly Pirates” – and accompanying the reading with live artwork!John is an acclaimed illustrator and author of books for children. He has twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway prize – and he lives round the corner!


Long Shot Summer


FRIDAY 26TH JUNE – 19.30

The Librarian at Lords, Neil Robinson, turns his attention to a summer of turmoil for English cricket. In the summer of 1988 England began its Test series against the mighty West Indies with a draw at Trent Bridge. Defeated 5-0 in each of its last two series against the world’s most fearsome cricket team, for England simply to avoid defeat and stand up to perhaps the greatest fast bowling attack in history seemed like a huge step in the right direction. But within days the team’s captain, Mike Gatting, had been sacked following a tabloid scandal. Over the remaining five Test matches that summer, England would select a further three captains and field a total of twenty-eight players as English cricket plunged into turmoil.

Using interviews with the main protagonists and contemporary reports, Neil Robinson reconstructs the events of an unparalleled summer for English cricket and asks: what was the truth behind the circumstances of Gatting’s dismissal? Why did a season of such promise descend into chaos? And what was the legacy of 1988 for the next generation of English cricketers?

music at kirkdale bookshop HIGHER RESOLUTION


The Jamie Leeming Trio feat. Emily Dankworth

Jamie Leeming: Guitar

Emily Dankworth: Vocals
Sophie English: Cello
Plus special guest

Wednesday 3rd June 2015

Doors: 7.30pm

Jamie Leeming is a London-based guitarist and will be releasing his debut EP Heartsong in autumn 2015. The programme will feature intimate acoustic arrangements of music from the EP, as well as a collection of songs from around the world. Expect a unique and exciting blend of jazz, folk, pop, and world music.


Tickets: £10 (£8 before 31st May)

£5 students/concessions


020 8778 4701

Facebook event page

Wednesday 20th May 2015 at 7.30pm
days of abandonment
From the back cover:
Rarely have the foundations upon which our ideas of motherhood and womanhood rest been so candidly questioned. This compelling novel tells the story of one woman’s headlong descent into what she calls an “absence of sense” after being abandoned by her husband. Olga’s “days of abandonment” become a desperate, dangerous freefall into the darkest places of the soul as she roams the empty streets of a city that she has never learned to love. When she finds herself trapped inside the four walls of her apartment in the middle of a summer heat wave, Olga is forced to confront her ghosts, the potential loss of her own identity, and the possibility that life may never return to normal again.


A fantastic turnout on Saturday 29th November. It seemed as though everyone in Sydenham came!
Steve Grindlay signing copies of his new book
£14.99 (in stock now)

Jonathan Gibbs signing copies of his fantastic novel ‘Randall’, he also gave a very entertaining reading.

Alexis Deacon came in on Saturday 5th July to give a very special Storytime. He read from his some of his books (including Beegu and Slow Loris) and he drew us a couple of animals based on what was called out by the audience (very unusual looking).

John Challis aka ‘Boycie’ signing his autobiography and new novel at the Bookshop, 16th November 2013:
Our first Short Story Evening was a great success, details of the next one are to be confirmed shortly.
Sydenham Street Celebration
As part of the Sydenham Arts Festival Street Celebration, we turned our patch green, with miniature garden making and a special outdoor storytime:

Our 47th Birthday & Books Are My Bag Party:

Box Office open 17th June, by tickets now at

Cracking Cryptics, Monday 1st July 7.30pm, Kirkdale Bookshop

A light-hearted look at cryptic crosswords
Tony Long has a distinguished career as a cryptic crossword-setter, with his puzzles appearing in various newspapers and magazines. Kirkdale Bookshop is hosting an evening with Tony, who will share tips and secrets about all things cryptic. You will have a chance to pit your wits against Tony’s clues. Whether a veteran at solving cryptics, or you’ve always wanted to try, this is an event not to be missed.

Blake Morrison, Wednesday 3rd July 8pm, Sydenham School

In conversation with Matthew Sweet
Award-winning author, journalist and poet Blake Morrison will be discussing his life and work with broadcaster and author Matthew Sweet. His books include The Last Weekend, South of the River, As If and the acclaimed memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? made into a film starring Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent. He will read from his works and sign copies of his books.

Welcome to Biscuit Land, Monday 8th July 8pm, St Christopher’s Hospice

An evening with Touretteshero
It’s not often that Sydenham gets to host a bona fide superhero (well, apart from Shackleton maybe) – but tonight SAF is thrilled to welcome Touretteshero! After the success of her blog and book Welcome To Biscuitland, this is an opportunity to meet Jessica Thom, who will read and answer questions. A unique and hotly-tipped event.

Write A Poem, Thursday 11th July 6.30pm, Kirkdale Bookshop

With SAF’s Poet-in-Residence Gale Burns
Whether you are an old hand, or abeginner, hone your skills in a friendly setting with writing prompts, editing skills, and the insipration of published work. For adults and older teens.

Benjamin Zephaniah and Guests, Saturday 13th July 7.30pm, Sydenham High School

A rare chance to hear this iconic poet, musician and self-proclaimed troublemaker. Benjamin was the first person to perform with the Wailers after the death of Marley. His mission is to reach people who do not read books. Support acts include Hannah Lowe and Gale Burns.

Tuesday 27th November 7pm
We are hosting the launch of local author Dominic Canty’s new novel Dead Men Should Know Better.

Open Book Club
Wednesday 21st November 7.30pm

George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air

Our Open Book Club discussing Coming Up For Air

Click here for our Summer 2012 Newsletter

Every Picture Tells A Story: Work by Children’s Book Illustrators.
7th July-31st August 2012
Open Book Club
At Kirkdale Bookshop
Wednesday 19th September 2012
Reggae Going International 1967-1976:
 The Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee Story Friday 3rd August 7-9pm
Local Author Noel Hawks (with Jah Floyd) will be coming in to talk about his fantastic new biography on the larger than life musician and producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. It is the incredible story of how reggae went international.



Wednesday 18th July 2012

7.30 pm

Come along to our Open Book Club we’ll be discussing Alan Hollinghurst’s novel The Stranger’s Child.

 Full Festival information can be found

Monday 2nd July, 7.30-9pm
Local Historian Steve Grindlay shares more revelations about local artists, musicians and writers, including one or two surprises.
Thursday 5th July, 6.30-8.30pm
Come and write with the help of Festival Poet Gale Burns. Learn in a friendly setting, with writing prompts, editing skills and inspiration of published work
Saturday 7th July, 3-5pm 
Come along to the launch of this exhibition of amazing work by children’s book illustrations.



Monday 9th July, 8-9.30pm
An illustrated talk by Kathleen Adler, former director of education at the National Gallery. Booking is essential.                   
Simone Lia Book Signing
Saturday 28th April 3.30-4.30pmWe are delighted to welcome Simone Lia, author of Dear God, Find Me A Husband(The Guardian’s Graphic Novel of the Month) to the shop on Saturday 28th of April. She will be signing copies of her hilarious new book.


Celebrate the magic of sharing stories and poems by candlelight Staff and customers will be reading bits from their favourite books by candlelight on the evening of the 23rd. Wine and nibbles, as well as free WBN selected books to give away. If you would like to do a short reading, please speak to a member of staff.


This month Sydenham is reading

Costa Novel Award Winner 2011

Wednesday 21st March 2012

7.30 pm

Come along to our Open Book Club  we’ll be discussing Andrew Miller’s novel Pure.


A Celebration of the Life and Works of

Mr Charles Dickens

on the Occasion of his 200th Birthday

Thank you to all those who made our Dickens Evening a huge success. It was wonderful to see

so many people there -over 200!

Dickens biscuits by


This month Sydenham is reading….


Wednesday 18th January 2012

7.30 pm

Come along to our Open Book Club  

  we’ll be discussing

Alex Wheatle’s novel Brixton Rock.

Friday 2nd December 2011

Late Night Christmas Shopping

The shop (and others up and down the High Street) will be open late on the 2nd of December. There will be mince pies, mulled wine, a choir singing carols and 10% off all books, cards and gifts. See you then!

Matthew Sweet will be talking about his book

The West End Front

Monday 12th December 2011 7.30pm

Radio 4’s Book of the Week.

Delightfully gossipy and often moving, it shines an affectionate search-light on an entirely forgotten chapter of World War II” ’   Mark Gatiss

Lucy Faithfull
Mother to Hundreds
A Talk by the author Judith Niechcial

Monday 28th November 2011 7.30pm
A life-long and passionate campaigner for children, Baroness Faithfull (1910-1996) was one of the most eminent social workers of the twentieth century. Judith Niechcial has written a compelling account of this remarkable woman and will be giving an illustrated talk.

Open Book Club
Wednesday 23rd November

Come Along to our Open Book Club when we will be discussing Carol Birch’s Booker Shortlisted novel Jamrach’s Menagerie.

In Shackleton’s Footsteps:
A talk from Henry Worsley

Explorer Henry Worsley gave a talk about his recent expedition to the South Pole, following the route of his ancestor 100 years before. His passion and enthusiasm were infectious, and he was kind enough to sign copies of his book.
Saturday 22nd October
we are celebrating
Kirkdale Bookshop’s Birthday!
We will be 45 years old!
(we opened in Oct 1966)
To celebrate, we are giving all our customers 10% off.


Wednesday 21st September 7.30pm

Come along to our Open Book Club when we’ll be discussing Jonathan Franzen’s novelFreedom.

Saturday 2nd July
Suprise Guest Storytime

The creators of Stripy Horse, Karen Wall and Jim Helmore, came in to give a very special storytime as part of Sydenham Arts Festival, we all enjoyed it very much!

Judge A Book By Its Cover
Friday 1st July 6.30-8.30pm

Penguin Cover Designer Coralie Bickford-Smith will be coming in to discuss and demonstrate the art of making a book’s cover. 

June 2010
Alice in Wonderland
Levi Roots book signing at Kirkdale Bookshop


Late night shopping at Kirkdale Bookshop with mulled wine and mince pies.

Sydenham Hallowe’en. Trick or treating takes place once again in the high street. Children (with parents) meet outside Gymophobics (Station approach) at 4pm. Everyone goes trick or treating around the local businesses (those with the “pumpkin” in the window), meeting back at the start at 4.45pm for fancy dress judging at 5pm.

Kirkdale Bookshop’s 44th Birthday.
New mixed exhibition opening.
Exhibition finishes Dec 31st 2010

Local author and journalist Robert Trevor will be signing copies of his war memoir, Blitz Boy from 6pm. (£9.95 paperback). We have signed copies in the shop now.


BEACH AT THE BOOKSHOP Kirkdale Bookshop once again transforms its pavement into a tropical beach complete with palm trees and deck-chairs. There will be storytelling sessions from poet Ronnie McGrath at 10.30 and 11.30 am. FREE. Plus live music from Sydenham’s answer to Stevie Wonder, Peter Caesar. 10-3pm.

Punch and Judy at ‘Beach at the Bookshop


CHILDREN’S POETRY JAMBOREE Come along and read your favourite poem – or maybe one you have written. Gale Burns will also be presenting the prize for the festival poetry competition.FREE. 3-4.30pm


The Annexe at Kirkdale Bookshop opens. Artists Mark Hill and Kate Shipp, whose Recycled House was open to the public during last year’s festival, transform the gallery into an opulent interior space from available resources.You are invited to donate interesting yet purposeless items by 25th June. Any enquiries please email


CHILDREN’S POETRY WORKSHOP with Orlaine Dee. Funny poems, sad poems, silly poems, happy poems. Read and write some and play some games to get your imagination working. Tickets £3.00. 3-5pm.

SUNDAY 6th JUNE 2010

Alice in Wonderland Tea-Party in Kirkdale Care Centre garden, 3-5pm. Join Alice, The White Rabbit, The Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter for a magical afternoon of promenade theatre, children’s art activities and tea and cakes. Tickets £4 (inc a £1 bookshop voucher).

MONDAY 14th JUNE  2010

Book Group Party – Kirkdale Bookshop invites you to discuss Sarah Waters’ gothic ghost story The Little Stranger. Have a glass of wine, join a book group, or even form one! 7.30pm.


Jad Adams: Gandhi, Naked Ambition Two years ago, local author Jad Adams talked about his book Absinthe: The Devil in the Bottle. This year, Jad will be discussing his latest book, detailing the legendary liberator of India’s battle with celibacy. The author will sign copies. Free event. 7.30pm.

FRIDAY 18th JUNE  2010

Usborne Craft Workshop Author and illustrator Fiona Watt will be running another children’s doodle workshop this afternoon, for all under 12. 4-5.30pm. FREE.


Bookbinding Demonstration with Liz Howard  Drop into the bookshop’s gallery as local bookbinder Liz Howard will be providing an insight into this highly skilled craft between 11.30-3.30pm. FREE EVENT.

Kirkdale Bookshop Writers’ Group Readings Members of the bookshop’s very own writers’ group will be reading stories and poems at various locations around the shop. Tickets £4 (places limited so book early.)


Dame Cicely Saunders Concert Series  at St Christopher’s Hospice. 7.30pm  020 8768 4747 (See brochure in Bookshop)


Sydenham Society Talk: “Local Artists and Musicians” by local historian, Steve Grindlay. Details: 


Special Stripy Horse Storytime for World Book Day.

Jim Helmore & Karen Wall will be reading and signing copies of their new title Hold On Tight Stripy Horse, the third in their award-winning series.




3.30pm – 5.30pm

with Fiona Watt from Usborne Books

15th October 2005

A Dalek at the Bookshop!

DOCTOR Who fans posed with a Dalek at a bookshop’s birthday celebrations.
The Dalek invaded Kirkdale Bookshop, Kirkdale, Sydenham, on Saturday.
The idea came to owner Geraldine Cox, 58, when the bookshop had a recent Harry Potter evening.
She said: “We just thought it would be a bit of fun and it seems to have captured everyone’s imagination.”
Ms Cox opened the shop in 1966 with her father Alec.
They decided to open in Sydenham because there was no bookshop in the area at the time.

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