Friday, July 17th, 2009...11:31 am

Broughton Street Bookshop (Edinburgh)

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It has been over twenty years since I visited my mother’s ancestral home (her father was a McVey) in Edinburgh, Scotland, but on my next journey there I will visit Broughton Street Bookshop.

Proprietor Brian Rafferty opened the shop because he was unsuccessful in securing career employment in information technology for which he has the necessary qualifications. It is likely that his candor in his job application cover letters–describing his having Asperger’s syndrome, a condition along the autism spectrum, information that he was not required to provide–scotched his getting any interviews.

People with Asperger’s syndrome typically are very focused, possessing detailed knowledge about a narrow range of topics, and having difficulty┬ánavigating social cues and skills.

In other words they behave like engineers and college or university professors.

Mr. Rafferty’s story is featured in a recent article in the Daily Telegraph, by Judith Woods. A portion of the store’s proceeds go to the National Autistic Society.

The Broughton Street Bookshop may be found at 44 Broughton Street, Edinburgh. I could not find a Web site or email contact for the story and welcome readers’ providing me with that information.


  • I am Brian’s step father mentioned in the article if anyone is wishing to contact us thye can do so on the above mentioned email address.
    Or of course write to the book shop direct.

    Brian has received quite a considerable amount of correspondence since the article.

    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you but I have just read this blog.

    Did you ever get to the book shop?

    Kind Regards

    Kevin Rafferty

  • Mr Rafferty, thanks for visiting here and leaving a comment. Alas, I have not been back to Edinburgh since 1987, so a visit is long overdue!

  • Since the Broughton Spurtle first covered Brian’s shop in January 2009 (months before that rag, the Daily Telegraph), the Broughton Bookshop has become a popular fixture on Broughton Street. Brian’s success neatly inverts the assumption that people with autism require gentle integration into the community: in fact, it is members of the community who require (and benefit greatly from) gentle introduction to marvellous people not quite like themselves.
    (To find the article, go to Issue 166 on the Back Issues page of our website.)
    Best wishes

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