A World Book Day Interview with Johnny de Falbe of John Sandoe Books – #MyLondonMorgan


To celebrate World Book Day, we’re catching up with Johnny de Falbe from our favourite local book store John Sandoe. We asked him a host of burning questions to discover his favorite books and what he loves about Morgan cars. You can find out more about our collaboration with this specialist shop which is just off Kings Road. Make sure to take a look at our favourite books with London Morgan’s John Sandoe bookshelf.


The London Morgan: How old are you? Where are you from, where did you grow up?
Johnny de Falbe: 55 – I grew up in Hertfordshire


The London Morgan: Where did you go to school? Who was your most memorable teacher at school and why?
Johnny de Falbe: I went to St Georges, the choir school attached to Windsor Castle, followed by Eton, where my favourite teacher was the man who taught me English for A level. He wrote novels under the pen name Matthew Vaughan, and he would climb on chairs to gesticulate; and always smelled of cigarettes.


The London Morgan: Why are you based in London? If not London, where do you live now?
Johnny de Falbe: In London, because it is necessary for working in the bookshop.


The London Morgan: Tell us about John Sandoe Books, how did you get started there?
Johnny de Falbe: I started here by accident in 1986 – I was looking for temporary work, and found I loved it. When John Sandoe retired in 1989, a customer lent me and the other man who was working here at the time the money to buy the business. The (ex-) customer is still here as my partner.


A photo from inside John Sandoe bookshop in London with a Morgan Motor Car outside on the street seen through a window with books stacked along it


The London Morgan: What makes the book shop so special?
Johnny de Falbe: The depth of stock; the informed staff; our clientele too, from travelling students picking up a volume of obscure poetry to collectors of fine books, with the odd galanthomaniac thrown in.


The London Morgan: What are your top 3 books that everyone should read?
Johnny de Falbe: ‘The Leopard’ by Giuseppe di Lampedusa; Chekhov’s short stories; ‘The Transit of Venus’ by Shirley Hazzard.


The London Morgan: Which author is your favourite?
Johnny de Falbe: Robert Edric – an almost completely unknown writer who I think is one of the best living English novelists.


The London Morgan: How are you celebrating World Book Day?
Johnny de Falbe: I will buy a splendid bunch of flowers for our upstairs and welcome in the local children with their book tokens.


A photo inside John Sandoe bookshop in London showing shelves of books and books stacked on tables.


The London Morgan: What do you think a car should say about you?
Johnny de Falbe: “The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the commons, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement!” (in the words of Toad, from ‘Wind in the Willows’.)


The London Morgan: What is it you like about Morgan Cars?
Johnny de Falbe: They make me think of Toad of Toad Hall, which is a very fine thing. And that the frame is made of wood.


A photo of a London Morgan Motor car on the street outside of John Sandoe bookshop


The London Morgan: What is the last book that you read and what book would you take on your next holiday and where would that holiday be?
Johnny de Falbe: ‘The Sheltering Sky’ by Paul Bowles. In a garden in Tangier.


The London Morgan: Let’s talk about London hotspots; what’s your favourite restaurant? Bar? And Museum/art gallery?
Johnny de Falbe: The Best Turkish Mangal in the North End Road. Leighton House.


The London Morgan: What advice would you give to a younger you and what do you wish you hadn’t known when you were growing up?
Johnny de Falbe: I would tell my younger self to be more patient.


Quick questions
What’s your attitude to technology? High tech or old school? We are dependent on high tech so it is daft to ignore it
Handmade or value for money? Independent which can be both handmade and value for money
AI or collective consciousness? I feel a bit foggy about both of these…