Malicious Damage

The Defaced Library Books of Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton

by Ilsa Colsell


At first, the staff of the Islington Public Library rather looked forward to the discovery of another book, turned in by a confused patron who had realised, too late, that something was terribly wrong with its cover or flyleaf blurb. On the front of The Great Tudors, Henry VIII’s face had been mysteriously replaced by that of a chimpanzee. The plot synopsis inside the jacket of Dorothy L. Sayers’ potboiler Clouds of Witness concludes by suggesting that the reader “have a good shit”. When, in late 1961, complaints began to increase in frequency and fervour, the chief librarian decided that something must be done. Read the rest of this entry »