Sheila O’Reilly is owner of Dulwich Books in West Dulwich, voted the best bookshop in UK & Ireland in 2014. In 2015, she is running the Dulwich Literary Festival on 16, 17 & 18 October in The Old Library of Dulwich College.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?

Books. They have been central to my life since I first starting borrowing from our local library in Dublin. Books have always spurred my imagination, given me untold number of ideas and taken me to another worlds.

Do you know your neighbours?

For Dulwich Books in West Dulwich we are surrounded by wonderful neighbours such Thomas’s Schoolwear, Alleyn Park Garden Centre, Jaadu Clotheswear, The Dulwich Trader and Jo Partridge hairdressers. We all know each well so are more than just business colleagues aiming to create a friendly atmosphere of shops for our local community.

The most famous person you’ve seen or met?

Hosting hundreds of book events in Dulwich Books we are lucky enough to meet lots of famous authors such as Simon Mayo, Alan Johnson & Chris O’Dowd. Although Scott Parazynski was one of the most inspiring people I’ve met as he’d climbed Mount Everest as well as going doing five Space Shuttle flights and seven spacewalks. He is the only person to have both flown in space and summited Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth – impressive.

Describe your perfect weekend

Sunday morning listening to a re-run of Sounds of the Sixties with Brian Matthews, scrambled eggs on toast, strong coffee and reading book reviews in the papers.

Where are you likely to be found on Saturday?

Working in Dulwich Books, Saturdays are our busiest days and with lots of regulars popping in to see what’s new in the week I get a chance to chat with our customers about books and with recommendations.

The best kept secret…

Belair House. It is a beautiful house with a wonderful terrace means there is no better place to sip a coffee, beer or glass of wine on a summer’s evening.

Where’s your favourite place to walk?

Along the Thames, probably from Shad Thames towards Waterloo Bridge. It makes me appreciate how lucky I am to live in the best city in the world, where you can achieve your goals & dreams – like setting up the Dulwich Literary Festival!

When I want to relax…

Reading, reading or reading although ideally with a glass of wine but that’s not always possible.

What is your favourite shop?

The Dulwich Trader on Croxted Road. I cannot resist popping on a weekly basis for a browse and often a purchase. It is the ideal shop to buy presents, for a “treat myself” purchase or just generally spend a peaceful ½ browsing their amazing range.

What was the last thing you bought there?

A present for my husband adding to his Joseph Joseph collection.

The book I’m reading at the moment…

As always I am reading more than one book. Randall by Jonathan Gibbs – a delightful read. The One In A Million Boy by Monica Wood, due to be published in April 2016 and is I feel one to watch for next year. The Food of Love is the debut novel by Prue Leith who is appearing in Dulwich Literary Festival on Saturday 17th October and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

My secret ambition…

To build the Dulwich Literary Festival into an event that appeal to all our local community, brings authors to book lovers and is the highlight of the year in Dulwich.

Tickets can be booked online, via email:, via telephone on  020 8670 1920, or pop into Dulwich Books on Croxted Road SE21 8SW.