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  • Published: 26 February 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473525221
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 6 hr 49 min

Shop Girl

The moving and hilarious true story of the early years of Mary, Queen of Shops

Young Mary Newton, born into a large Irish family in a small Watford semi, is always getting into trouble. When she isn’t choking back fits of giggles at Holy Communion or eating Chappie dog food for a bet, she’s accidentally setting fire to the local school. Mary is a trouble magnet. And, unlike her brothers, somehow she always gets caught…

Britain in the 1970s is a world where R. White's lemonade is drunk in secret, curry comes in a box marked Vesta and beanz meanz Heinz. In Mary’s family, money is scarce. Clothes are hand-me-downs, holidays are a church day out to Hastings and meals are variations on a potato theme. But these are good times and everything revolves around the force of nature that is Theresa, Mary’s mum.

When tragedy unexpectedly blows this world apart, a new chapter in Mary’s life opens up. She takes to the camp and glamour of Harrods window dressing like a duck to water, and Mary, Queen of Shops is born…

  • Published: 26 February 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473525221
  • Imprint: Transworld Digital
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 6 hr 49 min

About the author

Mary Portas

Known to the nation as Mary, Queen of Shops, from her Award winning series for the BBC Mary Portas has made an indelible mark on British retail. Starting her career with Harrods and then Top Shop she made her name as the Creative Director of Harvey Nichols, transforming the department store into London’s sexiest fashion destination.

She has written columns for most national media on retail and consumerism, published two books, advised Government on the future of High Streets, launched her own fashion label, as well as kickstarting the return of British manufacturing with her brand Kinky Knickers.

Her proudest achievement to date, she says, is the creation of Mary’s Living and Giving shops for Save The Children. Currently the most profitable charity shops in the UK, she has so far opened 25 and has raised over £13 million and counting.

All of this is fuelled by the talent and expertise of the people of Portas, her agency based in London. Working on an international level, the business advises clients from every continent, covering every sector of the industry, from mass market brands to high-end luxury, across fashion, beauty, hotels, airports, Malls and Real Estate Place-making.

Distinguished by an unrelenting focus on people and the cultural influences that shape their lives, Mary and her diverse team of strategists, designers and creatives have built made to-measure concepts that marry the key tenets of intelligence, instinct and insight.

Westfield, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes, Gap, Liberty, L’Oreal, Sainsburys, Estée Lauder to name but a few have all had the Portas magic. Portas believe that understanding today’s fluid consumers is at the heart of great selling and shopping. That and a bloody great dollop of intuition, creativity, vision and risk. Otherwise, why bother?

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Praise for Shop Girl

Portas writes with wit and verve... The book has the narrative charm of Anita and Me or The Buddha of Suburbia; so when the darkness comes it's genuinely shocking. Shop Girl is a testament to survival. But most of all it is a love letter to her mother, Mary Flynn. Every joke, argument, cake baked, tenderness proffered, sings off the page. 'To my mum - How lucky was I getting you' is the book's dedication. And we are lucky to read it.


Enormous fun, readable, nostalgic, poignant and authentic... Read it then give it to your daughter

Daily Express

Absolutely fabulous... Colourful, camp and unexpectedly heart-rending, I loved it.

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

Her school stories are hilarious... a nostalgia-fest


Portas's memoir is witty, fascinating and, at times, sad but always compelling


It breezes along seamlessly... with levels of charm, depth and humour

The Observer

Poignantly described



The Times

Inspiring and emotional


[A] delightful memoir... full of evocative images

Choice Magazine

Warm, witty and evocative, Shop Girl is a cloudless trip down memory lane

The Tablet

Undeniably compelling

Irish Sunday Independent

Searingly honest... A fascinating memoir


[Shop Girl] is both a beautifully nostalgic look back at a world long gone and a testament to family ties and our inherent strength

Irish Independent

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