Frederick William Chaundy

Frederick William Chaundy (1866-1949), ABA president in 1921, was born at Oxford, the eldest son of Henry Chaundy, a cabinet-maker, and his wife Mary Neal Maxey, who had married in 1864. By 1881 the family were living in Observatory Street and Frederick W. Chaundy, at fourteen years of age, was already apprenticed to a local bookseller. 

In 1890 he married Annie Sheppard (1865-1914), the daughter of a local printer and compositor. The young couple lived for a time in Bristol, both working in a bookshop there, and it was in Bristol that their only child, Leslie Frederick Chaundy (1891-1940) was born. The family returned to Oxford and by 1901 were living at the famous old bookshop at 104 High Street – now the home of Sanders of Oxford but then the premises of William George’s Sons, by whom Chaundy was employed as manager. 

In 1907 Chaundy took over the business, which rapidly expanded.  Henry Taunt, the Oxford photographer and publisher of local guides, commented in 1911 that “Opposite the new buildings of Brazenose College, just before Oriel Street is reached, at 104 High Street, where the shops stand out into the street, will be found an old book shop, one of the interesting places among the many in Oxford. This has been an old book shop now for something approaching a century, and the Author, when a boy some sixty years ago, worked in it, and learned here some of his book lore. It was an old book shop then, but has been extended much farther back and made three times the size to accommodate the vastly increased number of books. An immense stock of second-hand books will be found, with many remainders, and the proprietor, Mr. F. W. Chaundy, lays himself out to secure scarce books or others required. He is Agent in Oxford for the Medici Prints, and has a number of the older Arundel Society’s publications. The variety of stock is very great, and book-lovers and others will find the place a considerable attraction. Among old customers he values the patronage he has received from Messrs. Gladstone, Ruskin, William Morris, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the King of Siam and many others”.

The following year, Chaundy took on additional premises at 36 Broad Street, which remained in the family until the building was demolished in 1937 – from 1918 onwards in the hands of Harry Walter Chaundy (1872-1952), F. W. Chaundy’s younger brother and former assistant. It was presumably this shop that Betjeman recalled in Summoned by Bells,

“One lucky afternoon in Chaundy’s shop / I bought a book with tipped-in colour plates ...”. 

The High Street shop was taken over by Leslie Chaundy for a brief period in the 1920s, but had passed to Francis Sanders by 1927, although Harry Chaundy remained a partner in the Sanders business until 1940. Leslie Chaundy is remembered as the publisher of a number of bibliographies of modern authors in 1921-1922.

Frederick William Chaundy, now living at his parents’ old house at 9 Southmoor Road, Oxford, died on 24th March 1949. Probate was granted to his brother, Harry Walter Chaundy, himself by now retired.