UK library writes off huge fine for book taken out 76 years ago

Volume of Ronald Duncan play 'This Way to the Tomb' discovered by Yorkshire resident while tidying up bookshelves at home

Date stamps in the copy of 'This Way To The Tomb' show just how long it has been away from the library. Photo: Bradford Council
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An enormous fine accrued by a book borrowed 76 years ago from a UK library has been waived by the library's management.

Keighley Library wrote off the debt on a copy of the Ronald Duncan play This Way to the Tomb, which had been on its shelves for less than a month in 1946 when it was taken out.

It is thought the forgetful borrower was Eileen Hoyle, now deceased, mother of Charlie Studdy, who discovered the errant volume while tidying up some bookshelves at his house near the Yorkshire town of Goole.

Charlie Studdy with the book that his mother borrowed in 1946. Photo: Bradford Council

The library itself is in nearby Haworth, a town known for its links to renowned literary sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte.

Unsurprisingly, its current management confirmed the whopping fine is "definitely a record".

“[Charlie] said 'I'm more than happy to send it to you but less enthusiastic about paying any fine'," a library manager told The Yorkshire Post.

"So I thought I'd work out what it would be if we charged the current rate of 15p per day. Total £3,552.45. We have not charged any overdue fees for this book."

Mr Studdy speculated to the same newspaper about the possible circumstances behind his mother's failure to return the book.

“It’s likely that it was borrowed from the library when she returned home from university for the holidays and forgot to take it back. My mother loved books all the way through her life. She was an avid reader until the end."

The 76-year hiatus is a record for Bradford Council's library service, and fines never exceed the value of the book.

Updated: June 22, 2022, 4:20 PM
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