Laurence Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been six times an elected member of the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. He was largely responsible for drafting the Association’s Code of Practice introduced in 1997 and its revision in 2016, served as Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2001 and as President from 2011 to 2013. He is a former member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society and continues to serve on the Council of the London Topographical Society.
He writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades, and has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, London, Reading and Sheffield, as well as at the Bibliographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the British Library, the British Museum, the National Library of Scotland, Stationers’ Hall, the Warburg Institute, Gresham College, and the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution. He taught annually at the London Rare Books School for many years. Published work includes the compilation of fourteen ‘lives’ for the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, a number of articles for “The Oxford Companion to the Book” and the chapter on early English maps and atlases for the fourth volume of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain”. Major essays on the British Map Trade are also appearing in “The History of Cartography” published by the University of Chicago Press. His long-awaited “British Map Engravers”, co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, was published to critical acclaim in 2011. More recently, he contributed the numerous biographical notes to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012 He also contributed the numerous biographical notes both to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012, and to Ralph Hyde’s “London Parish Maps to 1900”, published by the LTS in 2020. His booklet on “Cataloguing for Booksellers”, published in 2015 has become a standard text and has several times been reprinted.
A promise was made to the members of the ABA that he would try to travel round the British Isles to see as many of them as possible in his tenure as president – and this blog began as “The President on Safari”. It now continues in the same vein – travels to visit booksellers and bookshops, along with other passing thoughts on books and bookmen past and present, forgotten authors, neglected engravers, obscure bookbinders, unusual bookplates – and anything else that takes the fancy. A parallel blog of otherwise unpublished essays and lectures is available via the link.