23 November, 2021
We are profoundly sad to report the death on 17 October 2021 of Camille Van de Velde, aged 34, our former colleague and friend. Apart from a short stint in publishing, Camille worked at Heywood Hill from October 2013 until June 2021.
Camille joined Heywood Hill after being introduced to the shop by her mother, a longstanding customer. Camille initially worked on the shop floor, learning the idiosyncrasies of our business and our customers. Her calm, efficient and welcoming presence was quickly appreciated by all.
Camille began her bookselling career as we launched our monthly book subscription service, A Year in Books. She was increasingly drawn to this side of the business and she was instrumental in its growth and development, leading the subscription department in recent years.
When the pandemic hit Camille typically rose to the challenge and ensured books kept flowing to all our subscribers throughout the lockdowns. Camille was intelligent, brave, hard-working and analytical. She truly loved reading and became a powerful advocate for books that she admired, including many new, neglected and progressive voices.
During her years here Camille made many friends among Heywood Hill colleagues and customers, and among the wider book world, all of whom mourn her deeply. Her loss at such a young age is a devastating tragedy.
Camille was exceptionally kind, thoughtful, passionate and caring and always effortlessly stylish. She was very funny, with a great deadpan sense of humour. She adored London and she brought to it a cosmopolitan and distinctly European spirit. Before the pandemic she threw wonderful parties in her rooftop flat overlooking the city. She loved nature in all its forms and she was an accomplished sailor, a passion she learned from and shared with her father.
Camille is survived by both her loving parents and her devoted partner, who brought her so much joy and happiness and with whom she had been forging a new life.
Camille has been buried in Switzerland, after a beautiful service in London that none of us will ever forget. (Donations can be made to the RNLI or the Woodland Trust.)
We send her partner and her parents our everlasting condolences.
May her soul rest in peace.