Notting Hill is a place overflowing with stories. One of the most heart-warming and inspirational of these tales is that of Charlotte Reed. Charlotte is a market stall holder on Portobello Road and the local author of May The Thoughts Be With You, a beautifully illustrated collection of positive ideas and thoughts. It is a joy to read, but what makes it even more special is the story behind the story.
May The Thoughts Be With You was borne in 2008 following Charlotte’s battle with depression and a period of physical illness. In order to improve her outlook of life Charlotte decided to write one positive thought a day. She would then publish and share this thought on social media sites. This personal attempt to heal her mind from the ups and downs of life soon gained a cult online following, with many finding her positive outlook to be of inspiration and guidance.
Encouraged by the overwhelming support from her followers, yet still suffering from acute Repetitive Strain Injury, Charlotte decided to resign from her job and put her heart into earning a living through her creativity. She set about writing and illustrating the book completely by herself. Quite remarkable as she had never attended art school. Yet she says that by “discovering your creative self and creative instinct had made me realise that everyone is an artist, if they’d just allow themselves to be. I therefore had the courage to at least try to illustrate my book.”
Courage led her to self-publish, print and sell 2000 copies of her book from her Portobello market stall, online and in local independent bookshops such as The Notting Hill Bookshop. The journey of May The Thoughts Be With You is most definitely one that encourages hope. As Charlotte says: “My little book, which had originated from such a dark, sad and lonely time in my life, was being enjoyed and appreciated by lots of people. It was such a lovely feeling. And of course, because Portobello Road is such a tourist destination it really helped spread the word about my book.”
If the story so far has not been whirlwind enough for you, then prepare yourself. In November 2014 Charlotte secured a publishing deal with global publisher Hay House which has seen sales soar up to 5000 copies from her market stall alone, not even counting the figures from the mainstream book shops and online. The book has also been launched in the US and Canada, and will also be translated into Korean, German and Dutch this autumn. Even the singer Natalie Imbruglia has bought copies for her celebrity friends Kylie Minogue and David Walliams, and Natalie has now kindly endorsed the book calling it a ‘warm ray of sunshine, insightful and inspiring,’ among other things.
Every story deserves a happy ending. And this story has a wonderful one. For Charlotte can still be found on her Portobello Market Stall, surrounded by books and happy thoughts. Through the belief in herself and the power of creativity she has changed her life and found happiness.
May The Thoughts Be With You can be purchased from The Notting Hill Bookshop, 13 Blenheim Crescent.
Charlotte’s market stall can be found under the bridge at 281 Portobello Road (Saturdays 9:30am- 3:30pm) and 101 Portobello Road (Sundays 10am until 4pm). maythethoughtsbewithyou