Shakespeare Press

The Memoir of Gerald Jaggard

by Andy Jaggard

“Perhaps, if bookshops can be haunted, No. 4 Sheep Street can claim more ghosts than most. Haunted certainly by my father”

That was my father’s opening line to his unfinished memoir discovered a few days after his death in 2002. He called it The Life and Death of a Stratford Bookshop, but it was so much more than that. Aged seventy, he had decided he must at last tell the truth about his overpowering and eccentric father, Captain William Jaggard. However it seemed he couldn’t bring himself to finish his heartfelt story. It ended abruptly.

Three years ago, I received a strange enquiry from an American researcher seeking a famous Shakespearean book, once owned by the Captain, complete with Shakespeare’s signature. I started to investigate and dug into ‘the Jaggard Papers’, the Captain’s research on the Jaggard family tree from over a hundred years ago.

And so the idea began to form that I should try to discover what happened to Gerald and his family, learn why he abandoned his emotional story, and – if I could – complete his memoir. The iconic old bookshop in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon links the two men, but the real drama concerns my grandfather’s colourful and rather unbelievable life, the damaging impact on Gerald, and of how he survived and started a new life. Shakespeare Press, Gerald’s completed memoir, charts our three-year journey of discovery.


Gerald Jaggard’s Preface to his unfinished memoir

But although No 4 Sheep Street is gaunt and empty, it has a story to tell. It is a tale covering almost a century, when my father first set his sights on Stratford, and resolved to conquer it.

By incredible industry and strength of purpose he achieved many of his targets; by vanity, overconfidence and a complete lack of tact he made so many enemies on the way that his life ended in bitter failure.

Gerald quotes about ‘WJ’

I suppose in a way it was an historic moment – William Jaggard the Sixth bringing his Shakespeare Press to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birth town of his Tudor ancestors greatest client.

Gerald quotes about ‘WJ’

WJ had a horror of putting money into lawyers pockets, as he was, so to speak, a law unto himself.

Gerald quotes about ‘WJ’

His drive was dynamic, his industry tremendous, his patience inexhaustible. Such qualities overcame all obstacles in his work but eroded and finally destroyed his family life.

Gerald boyhood memories of Stratford in 1910

Those boyhood days in the Shipston Road stand out as an endless summer. Such are the tricks of memory that I cannot remember the winter months, the wind or the rain; I can only recall the heavy sweet scent of the privet hedge that seemed to be perpetually in flower, the birds and insects that abounded in the garden and the clouds of dust that passing traffic, mostly carriages, aroused as they went past the front gate.

Gerald’s growing love for the theatre (Old Memorial Theatre)

It was a never-failing pleasure to come away from a summer evening’s performance of ‘The Dream’ or ‘As You Like It’ and walk home by the moonlit river or leave the battlements of Dunsinane and the pageantry of Richard II to linger on the Clopton Bridge. How fortunate we were, and are, to have our theatre in a setting that rekindles the imagination, so that the matchless lines live on in our mind long after the curtain has fallen.

Gerald on the destruction by fire of the Old Memorial Theatre in 1926

… the fire gave the appearance of being selective. It devoured the playhouse and consumed the hundreds of paper-backed copies of the Memorial Theatre editions of the plays, stored in the Tower. This, like a factory chimney, belched flames, and smoke. And from it the wind carried the blackened pages right across the Avon, as though the dying spirit of the old theatre were making a final effort to spread the poet’s message over the countryside.


“What a gem and a joy to read”

This book tells the fascinating tale of one man’s personal journey to unravel his family’s lies against the background of twentieth-century life in Stratford-upon-Avon, the setting up of a local press and bookshop, and the intriguing sale of one of Shakespeare’s First Folios.
A  fascinating tale and a genuinely engaging family history
At different times, part social history, part historical documentary, a teasing detective story and a moving and unsentimental romance
An honest and very human account of real people’s lives
Brilliant … unorthodox but very engaging and eminently readable

“An absolutely fascinating book … I simply couldn’t put it down”

I  enjoyed the way that the author weaved together the stories of Gerald and Captain William with his own. Excellent .
We have two central characters (and a host of supporting roles) with whom we can genuinely sympathise, in different ways, at different stages of their lives.
Captain William Jaggard, a quirky character whose story was crying out to be told and the book certainly brings him to life.
Great empathy - many will relate to the damage caused by overbearing relationships
Passionately written .. a very compelling read, so many unanswered questions
I loved the ending.


Andy Jaggard, author of Shakespeare Press

Andy Jaggard

Andy was born in Tiddington near Stratford-upon-Avon in 1952. He attended King Edward V1th Grammar School where he was recruited by maths teacher and neighbour, Douglas Tuckey, to cox the 1st four in the rowing section. In the Sixth Form he was Captain of Boats and took up single sculling.

After teacher training at Durham University he taught Drama and English at a comprehensive school in Essex for two years. Attracted by a more informal learning environment he went to work at an Outdoor Education Centre at Sharpness in Gloucestershire, for many years.
In his thirties after completing a two-year B.Ed. Honours degree he made a career move into Management Development, initially as a Leadership Programme Manager for a large retail organisation, then in consultancy, before establishing his freelance business, Arena Development in 1996. He worked in the UK, in Europe and other parts of the World on Leadership and Organisational development programmes and projects.
A keen sportsman he played County League tennis for over twenty years in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire before his back problems forced him to give up the sport.
Aged twenty, Andy had first met Moira McGinnety while at Durham University. After a ‘trial separation’ of twenty-one years they met again in 1994. A few months later Andy re-located to Durham and they were finally married in 2010. Today they live on the edge of Durham City with stepson Ben Shepherd.
Andy resumed his rowing and sculling obsession when he returned to Durham, competing on the North-East circuit and as a ‘Masters’ (age category) sculler at National, Henley and World Masters events, winning three gold medals, at Henley Masters in 2013, at World Masters in Hungary in 2019 and in France in 2022. He coaches sculling at Durham Amateur Rowing club specialising in developing single scullers from ‘improvers’ to ‘racers’ (see )

Gerald Jaggard

Gerald Jaggard

Gerald was born in Liverpool in 1904 where his father, Captain William Jaggard had established his bookselling business.
In 1910 Captain William Jaggard uprooted the family and made his long-planned move to Stratford-upon-Avon where he established his “Shakespeare Press” bookshop at No. 4 Sheep Street. Five year old Gerald attended King Edward V1th Grammar School (initially the preparatory section). He had a promising academic future but, aged sixteen, was taken out of school by his father to work as a clerk at the local bank.

Gerald immersed himself in the life of the town - amateur dramatics, writing and producing his own shows, and playing tennis and snooker. He was President of the Old Boys Association. As a young man he was Hon. Secretary of Stratford’s Shakespeare club for two years then a Vice-President. He also served as one of the Club’s representatives on the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations Committee for twenty-five years,
On the death of his father in 1947, Gerald made the swift decision to give up his safe clerical job, and take on the running of the “Shakespeare Press” bookshop. A few months later, Gerald still a bachelor in his early forties, met a young lady called Diana Salt. They were engaged in 1948, married in 1949 and had three children, Anthea, Andrew and Patrick.
During Gerald’s seventeen years tenure of the “Shakespeare Press” the bookshop became a magnet for many of the thousands of visitors from overseas who throng the town during the Shakespeare season. Here he devised his play pamphlets for all of Shakespeare’s plays and met many famous actors of the day. After a four year battle with the Stratford Corporation Gerald was evicted from the bookshop on Christmas Eve 1964 the year of the town’s celebration of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
After the bookshop Gerald took up some part-time teaching at the Croft Preparatory School, coaching cricket and running the chess club until he took ‘early retirement’ aged ninety-three. He continued to enjoy his many hobbies and died aged ninety-seven in 2002.

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Shakespeare Press

The Memoir of Gerald Jaggard

Andy Jaggard

Shakespeare Press

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