Reference > Cambridge History > The Period of the French Revolution > Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800 > Payne, Davies
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

XIV. Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800.

§ 29. Payne, Davies.


As being similar centres for intercommunication in the bookworld, where the literati met and discussed new books or learned of projects for forthcoming works, some of the bookshops came to be known as literary coffee-houses. One of the first to be thus designated was a little low “elbow-shed” at the gate of the Lower mews, near Leicester fields. This was the bookshop of “honest Tom Payne,” one of the most celebrated booksellers of the day. The little L-shaped place, lighted by a skylight, was but ill adapted for the reception of the number of people “who not only frequented it but during certain hours of the day were never out of it.” The habitués of this nookery included Thomas Tyrwhitt, bishop Percy, William Heberden, Bennet Langton, George Steevens and Sir John Hawkins, and, at about one o’clock, almost any day, would be found there a group of people discussing literary themes or otherwise improving the art of conversation, probably more to their own satisfaction than to that of honest Tom, who found them much in his way. The spacious and handsome shop which Henry Payne, a younger brother, opened in Pall Mall with the hope of attracting some of these literary loungers failed to detach their allegiance from the dingy little resort, which the elder Payne occupied for nearly fifty years and which was continued by his son till the early years of the nineteenth century. Another of these literary howffs was the shop in Russell street, Covent garden, kept by Thomas Davies, the actor, whom Johnson befriended and whose Life of Garrick brought him more fame and probably more money than all his bookselling. It was when taking tea in Davies’s back parlour, which looked into the shop through a glass door, that Boswell, in 1763, at length had the gratification of being introduced to Johnson.   53

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