About Our Store

Mrs. Dalloway’s is a vibrant, full-service, independent neighborhood bookstore located in the beautiful, historic Elmwood District of Berkeley. The store was founded in 2004 when longtime friends and residents of the Elmwood, Marion Abbott and Ann Leyhe, decided to pool their passions, talents, and resources.

The store’s name derives from the first line of Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

Spacious and inviting, Mrs. Dalloway’s offers an exciting and diverse selection of titles—both comprehensive and contemporary—and is renowned for its skillfully curated fiction, non-fiction, poetry, garden book and children’s book sections, all of which feature a remarkable and relevant variety of rare and innovative small presses. The store also carries a variety of hand-selected merchandise geared to lifestyle, literature and gardening, a revolving art exhibition, and fresh plants.

From the day we opened our doors, our bookstore fostered a sense of community. Today, Mrs. Dalloway’s hosts over 100 stellar in-store author events each year, serving as a dynamic cultural center and resource for its neighborhood, its ever-expanding and devoted customer base, and as an outreach to the San Francisco Bay Area literary community.

Mrs. Dalloway’s outgoing and talented booksellers are passionate about reading, love to share their eclectic tastes with illuminating staff picks, and are most happy when engaged in book talk.

Annual literary events and services, include our:

  • Bloomsday celebration and readings
  • Annual fall weekend fundraiser for over 30 participating public and private schools (we give back 17% of all books sold)
  • Summer Reading Recommendations
  • Holiday Recommendations
  • Offsite book sales in partnership with individual authors and institutions
  • Free gift wrapping, curbside pick-up, home delivery in our neighborhood, and 24/7 ordering through our online store.
  • Libro.fm audio books partnership
  • Little Library children's book subscriptions

 

Owner Biographies

Fresh out of college, Marion Abbott and Ann Leyhe met the summer of 1975 at the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Marion pursued her career in trade book publishing at Sierra Club Books in San Francisco, Little, Brown & Co. in Boston, and Alfred A. Knopf in New York before establishing herself as an independent editor and writer in Berkeley in 1984. She has since published many articles, stories, and book reviews, co-edited Fire in the Hills, and co-authored, with Sylvia Shorris, Talking Pictures, an oral history of early filmmakers.

Ann Leyhe started her career at Dell Publishing in New York before joining Horticulture magazine in Boston as the photo editor. After moving to Berkeley in 1983, she became the west coast contributing editor. In Berkeley as a freelance photo researcher and stylist, she worked on the Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Western Landscape Book, and the Chronicle Books series on roses with photographer Saxon Holt. For 15 years she guided Oakland Park Day’s Secret Gardens of the East Bay tour.

Marion and Ann have both lived in the Elmwood more than thirty-five years.