Bruce Leigh obituary

Other lives: Bookseller and writer who became a dedicated Buddhist in Brighton

My friend Bruce Leigh, who has died aged 75, was an intellectual with a wide range of interests. He studied Marx, Hegel and Kant, and went all the way back to the pre-Socratic philosophers.

He also had an interest from his early teens in Lawrence of Arabia, and, dissatisfied with popular interpretations of his life, sought to understand the man through the large and eclectic library that Lawrence left behind at Clouds Hill, his house in Dorset. The result, after 10 years of writing, was Bruce’s study, Lawrence: Warrior and Scholar (2014).

For much of his working life Bruce was employed in libraries or in bookselling. He also worked for the Charities Commission, over a seven-year period that included a role monitoring and investigating charities. After that he and his wife, Linda (nee Nag), left London, first for Exeter and then a year in Manchester.

They finally settled in Brighton in 2001, where, as Buddhists, they were attracted by the thriving Buddhist community. There Bruce had various jobs, including working for charities and looking after churches for the Churches Conservation Trust. He also taught the violin as a private tutor. Born in Harrow, Middlesex, to Ruby (nee Robinson), and her husband, Albert, an engineer, Bruce was brought up in the suburb of Kingsbury. After Claremont secondary modern and technical colleges in Willesden and Harrow, he studied at Manchester College of Commerce and Leicester University, where he gained a degree in social sciences.

After a brief period as a liberal studies lecturer at Welwyn Garden City College of Further Education in Hertfordshire, Bruce worked for the bibliographic services division of Marylebone public libraries in London (1970-72), and then as assistant librarian at Kensington reference library.

Eventually he spent 10 years as manager of the paperback department at the Karnac Books shop in Gloucester Road, central London (1975-85), and then moved to Waterstones in Charing Cross Road shop as assistant buyer for psychology, philosophy and sociology books. It was as colleagues at Waterstones that we met, and he became a mentor for me, not just in books but in life.

Once in Brighton Bruce concentrated more on writing, and found musical companionship jamming with friends in the band Cirque Du Morte, in which he played acoustic violin. As an engaged member of the Brighton Buddhist Centre, he continued his spiritual path through meditation and study, which had a huge impact on his life and well-being. He started studying German late in life and was still learning ancient Greek while studiously improving his piano technique weeks before he died.

He is survived by Linda, his wife of 30 years, a son, Matt, from a previous relationship, and two grandchildren.

Fiona Mullen

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Audrey Simpson obituary
Other lives: Entrepreneur and activist who played a powerful role in the public life of Brighton

Derek Granger

09, May, 2019 @3:02 PM

Article image
Bruce Grant obituary
Other lives: Engineer and flying fanatic whose later life was devoted to raising money for charity

Barbara Fox

30, Jul, 2021 @4:48 PM

Article image
Elizabeth Wallis obituary
Other lives: Founder member of the Society of Indexers

Neil Wallis

30, May, 2018 @3:29 PM

Article image
Douglas Matthews obituary
Other lives: Librarian with a global reputation as a master of indexing

Barbara Abbs

17, Nov, 2020 @6:18 PM

Article image
Sava Peić obituary
Other lives: Serbian curator who helped to develop the British Library’s Balkan collections

Mary Raine

01, Mar, 2020 @1:09 PM

Article image
Margaret Strain obituary
Other lives: Dedicated librarian who inspired young and old with her love of books

Helen Honour

08, Jul, 2019 @4:34 PM

Article image
Michael Powell obituary
Other lives: Librarian who transformed Chetham’s Library in Manchester into an internationally recognised institution

Sue McLoughlin

09, May, 2019 @11:01 AM

Article image
Pamela Erskine obituary
Other lives: Children’s librarian who as a union rep fought for equal pay and against budget cuts

Jonathan Erskine

09, Oct, 2020 @10:33 AM

Article image
Carry Franklin obituary
Other lives: Artist and teacher, and the founder of Little Free Libraries in Leeds

Dave Bache

04, Aug, 2019 @3:25 PM

Article image
Peter Lewis obituary
Other lives: Librarian at the forefront of technological change in the British Library

Tim Lewis

11, May, 2018 @4:56 PM