My Library Story: Stephen Roberts

As an academic writer, I have used public and university libraries all over the country; but it all began for me at Sutton Library almost fifty years ago.

It was at Sutton Library, in its old site on the Parade, that I first learned to love books – both for reading and as beautiful objects in themselves. The children’s library had a complete run of all the Jennings, Billy Bunter and Just William books. The Bunter books had yellow covers and the William red, as I recall. I cannot overstate the delight reading my way through these books gave me. I went to sleep chuckling and the latest book I had borrowed got me out of bed in the mornings: I vividly remember reading about the adventures of these schoolboys as I myself dressed for school in the morning.

A few years later, as I walked home from Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School at the end of the day, I would regularly call into the library to borrow books to help with my A Level History course. I was later told that I got the best or close to the best marks of all the candidates in the JMB History exam when I sat it. That clearly owed a lot to my own hard work; but it also owed more than a little to the fantastic resources I found in Sutton Library.

I have continued to use Sutton Library since those times, borrowing detective fiction and CDs. I have also used it very recently for my research. I am the author of a series of books on Victorian Birmingham ( and for these I have made use of resources provided by Sutton Library.

Sutton Library cannot be allowed to disappear. It is at the heart of our community, and used by many different people for many different purposes. Let us do all we can to keep it open.

Stephen Roberts.


One comment

  1. Stephen I wouldn’t be surprised if we read the very same copies of Jennings and Just William, I too grew up with the library, the art and history sections were core to my development as an illustrator and researcher. Lovely tribute!

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