The small market town of Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh/English border was transformed by Richard Booth, a maverick bookdealer who opened his first bookshop in Hay in 1962. Ten years and 40 bookshops later, the town had become a world-renowned centre for second-hand books.
Richard Booth came up with the idea of a Booktown, a small rural town or village in which second-hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. There is now an international network of accredited Booktowns led by the International Organisation of Booktowns. Most Book Towns have developed in villages of historic interest or of scenic beauty.
A portrait of the King of Hay by the Telegraph:
On 1st April 1977 (All Fool’s Day), Richard Booth declared Hay an Independent Kingdom, and on 1st April 2000 followed up with an investiture of ‘The Hay House of Lords’ and created 21 new hereditary peers for the ‘Kingdom of Hay’. The portrait of King Richard of Hay featured on this webpage was painted by Eugene Fisk, who for many had a contemporary art gallery in his home at Ashbrook House in Clyro, where the home of the Victorian diarist Francis Kilvert.
For over 25 years Hay has hosted the Hay Festival, a literary festival and much more, dreamed up by the Florence family. It now has spin-off festivals and programmes around the world.
A portrait of Hay-on-Wye by Virtual Travel Productions: