Marshalltown’s literary history can be traced back to 1890 when there were already libraries and 11 bookshops within a few blocks of Johannesburg’s old City Hall. CNA started in a corrugated-iron building on the corner of Rissik and Commissioner streets. Juta started on the corner of Loveday and Pritchard and the Bantu Men’s Social Centre, at 1 Rissik Street, hosted social events, a boxing club, gym and a library founded by Herbert Dhlomo and run by Peter Abrahams. Frank Thorold came from Manchester to fight the Boer War and was a pioneer of book sales. “Mr Thorold used to walk around with a Gladstone bag visiting all the shops and markets when Bree Street taxi rank was the Flat Iron Market. He would open his Gladstone bag like a doctor on call and buy books and bring them back to the shop. And that is what the book vendors are doing today — walking around town buying books and taking them back to their place of sale,” explained American-born journalist and academic Griffin Shea. Sh...

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