Michael Gove speaks out in support of author Susan Hill following row involving Norwich book shop

PUBLISHED: 15:35 01 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:04 01 March 2017

Michael Gove. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Michael Gove. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire


MP Michael Gove has spoken out in support of writer Susan Hill over a row involving independent Norwich store the Book Hive.

The Book Hive, Norwich. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Book Hive, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

It comes after a huge amount of people including several well known authors have leapt to the defence of the London Street shop.

Ms Hill, author of The Woman in Black, had cancelled an event with the Book Hive before penning an article published on The Spectator website that branded the shop an “anti-Trump bookshop” and accused it of censorship over the stocking of books about the American president.

In response the Book Hive team said they were “astounded” at the claims and Henry Layte, the owner of shop, sent an open letter to the Spectator, within which he said such a ban on pro-Trump literature had never existed in his shop but that “it would be churlish of me not to reflect in much of my stock the prevailing political temperature of the place I am in.”

Today Mr Gove, a former cabinet minister and leading Brexit campaigner, tweeted: “Susan Hill is a brilliant writer and her detractors are illiberal bigots.”

Ms Perry, author of The Essex Serpent, was among those to reply to him on Twitter.

She said: “1. Nobody queries for a second her genius, MICHAEL.

“2. Disagreeing is not ‘detracting’, MICHAEL. 3.

“It is not bigoted to disagree, MICHAEL.”

She had previously also retweeted Mr Layte’s letter to The Spectator which she described as “A cogent and elegant response to the Spectator by @bookhive, a champion of writers and readers.”

Earlier Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, had tweeted: “Censorship: suppression or banning of books by the State; imprisonment of writers.

“Not censorship: bookshops choosing what books to sell.”

Meanwhile Patrick Ness, who is the author of A Monster Calls, also showed his support for the Book Hive on social media.

He said: “A response from the (superb) bookstore at the heart of Susan Hill’s Spectator attack.

“I get Book Hive to sell my books at all Norwich events.”

Fellow independent Books & Ink Bookshop, which is based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, also tweeted that it was sending “Bookseller love and solidarity to The Book Hive.”

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