The Little Bookroom opened its doors to the public on Friday the 13th October, 1960. Albert Ullin, after studying literature and languages and working extensively in the booktrade in Australia and internationally, decided to focus his love for contemporary children’s literature and illustration into an Australian first: he would open a bookshop devoted solely to children’s books.
Albert named his shop for a collection of whimsical short stories by Eleanor Farjeon who wrote on the occasion of the shop’s opening: “I am proud and happy to know you’ve chosen the title of my book for the title of your Bookshop in the City my Father first set foot in the 1850s when he emigrated to Australia as a boy of 16. The stories he told me of his arrival in Melbourne have always made it seem to be one of ‘my’ cities. Thankyou for giving me a home in it”.
The Little Bookroom’s logo also comes from its award-winning namesake – it is a treasured example of Edward Ardizzone’s ink illustration.
Albert found tiny premises (the shop was ten foot by twenty) in Melbourne’s Metropole Arcade – a once beautifully balconied wrought Iron arcade that now forms part of the Commonwealth Bank Building on the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets.
In 1963 The Little Bookroom moved to Equitable Place where it stayed for sixteen years before being forced to move once again to the shop in Elizabeth street that most are now familiar with. In 2005 another migration was forced upon The Little Bookroom which this time found a home in 771 Nicholson Street North Carlton before finally coming to rest in the present, and particularly happy premises, of 759 Nicholson Street. Albert’s original shelves have made every single move!
In its history The Little Bookroom has only had three sets of owners, all of whom have been committed to continuing its iconic legacy. Albert sold the business to three of his staff in 1997 – Christine Andell, Debra Kelly and Sarah Portelli spent ten wonderful years immersed in children’s books before, in turn, selling it to one of their employees, Leesa Lambert and her parents Lesley and Ian in early 2008.
The Little Bookroom now operates a thriving shop and events space in Carlton North, bringing authors, illustrators, publishers and readers together in a welcoming, respectful, inclusive community space. Our events schedule is also growing as demand for child friendly bookish activity grows in Melbourne, a UNESCO City of Literature.
We are very proud of the contribution we make to the world of children’s literature sharing our expertise and enthusiasm, and hope you can visit soon!