Say hello, wave goodbye

New and old management at Rye Bookshop. Left Camilla Staff, right Lizzie Lee

In the two years since it opened, the Rye Bookshop in the High Street has carved out a niche for itself. Many were sorry to the see the closure of a local landmark and institution, the Martello Bookshop,  in 2014 and some were wary about the advent of a shop run by national chain Waterstones the following year. However, under the management of Lizzie Lee, the Rye Bookshop has become a key part of the High Street, with numerous events, a book club, launches, readings and visits by giant rabbits and other characters. The shop is attractively laid out with a great selection of classics and new books as well as some gifts and attracts in locals and visitors alike. I was in there recently and a parent was trying to drag her child away: “But you don’t even like books”, the mother bawled. I hope this was a great piece of reverse psychology. The little girl certainly looked as though she thought the opposite, as she clung on grimly (or perhaps I should say Grimmly) to the volume in her hand.

A Whiff of Cyanide in Rye Bookshop

Lizzie is moving to perhaps what could be called the mothership of the Waterstones empire, Daunt Books in Marylebone, London. This bookshop was founded by James Daunt in beautiful Edwardian premises in 1990 and in 2011 James became managing director of Waterstones. He has something in common with the twin brother of Hercule Poirot#. The answer can be found at the bottom of this article.

Camilla Staff has replaced Lizzie as manager. Camilla spent five years in the Tunbridge Wells branch, before moving to the Hastings store and now landing the plum job in Rye. She plans to carry on Lizzie’s good work, arranging special events and catering for all comers.

On Saturday June 24, the ladies were hosting the launch of local author Guy Fraser-Sampson’s latest murder mystery, A Whiff of Cyanide, the third in his Hampstead Murders series. This book involves a suspicious death at a crime writers’ convention and features a character called Miss Marple.

Guy, who lives in Winchelsea, has also been responsible for many killings closer to home, including those of all the main characters in EF Benson’s much loved Mapp and Lucia series, in his sequel Au Reservoir.

His books can be found in the Rye Bookshop and in other good book stores.

# Answer: their first name is Achille(s)

Photo: Seana Lanigan


  1. Good luck Lizzie. From day one you have always been welcoming and knowledgeable. Good for Waterstones, not so good for the bank balance! Thank you.

  2. Very best wishes, Lizzie – you have been absolutely stellar in Rye from day one –
    do hope that you will find time to return to the High Street from time to time…
    and very best wishes for the new role in Marylebone.


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