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Roman is returned to library after 73 YEARS… but £3,000 fine is waived on amnesty

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Is this Britain’s most overdue book? Novel is returned to library after 73 YEARS…but £3,000 fine is waived for missing literature amnesty

  • A library book is returned after 73 years, resulting in almost £3,000 in fines
  • The American adventure novel Stately Timber was supposed to be returned in 1948
  • It was mailed from the Scottish Highlands by the daughter of the original borrower










Like most library books, it had to be returned after 14 days.

Instead, it stayed with the borrower’s family for 73 years, with nearly £3,000 in fines.

Now, following an amnesty for late return fees, what is believed to be Britain’s most overdue book has finally been returned.

Rupert Hughes’ American adventure novel Stately Wood was to be returned to the Central Library in Dunfermline, Fife, on November 6, 1948.

American adventure novel Stately Timber (pictured) by Rupert Hughes is returned to the library after 73 years

Librarians were amazed when it was mailed from Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands by the daughter of the original borrower more than seven decades later.

She explained in a letter that her late father had lived in Thornton, Fife, in 1948 and had borrowed the book when he was 20 years old.

She said she wasn’t sure whether he simply forgot to return it or chose to keep it, adding: ‘I find it fascinating to see the dates this book was published, during the final years of the Second World War. World War, and that the war ended between stamps marked by librarians.

“Life goes on around momentous historical events.” Donna Dewar, of what is now Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries, said: ‘I burst out laughing when I opened the package – I couldn’t believe it.

“We recently got a book back at our Rosyth facility after 14 years, which we thought was amazing enough, but this went way beyond anything we’ve ever heard of.

“For a bit of fun we’ve worked out how much could have been paid in fees and it comes to a whopping £2,847.”

Librarians were amazed when it was mailed from Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands by the daughter of the original borrower more than seven decades later.

Librarians were amazed when it was mailed from Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands by the daughter of the original borrower more than seven decades later.

The inside cover of the novel reads: ‘This book may be kept for 14 days. The librarian is authorized to impose fines on readers who lose, damage or keep books for longer.’

Christine McLean, Fife’s Head of Cultural Heritage, said: ‘We are delighted to have received it… and we look forward to finding a special place to display the book – and the story of its journey. see our section on local studies. ‘

The Guinness world record for most overdue library book is held by a book that was returned to the University of Cambridge’s Sidney Sussex College after it was borrowed in 1668 and returned 288 years later.

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