Library book returned 64 years late after all fines removed

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A library book titled Forgotten Submarine has finally been returned to a library – over sixty years late. The book was found by Jill Davies on the side of the road in her home town of Portsmouth in 1957.

She decided to read it before returning it but never did – and recently found it while decluttering during lockdown. Arthur Catherall’s Story is a children’s book about a British spy’s attempt to save a Japanese submarine during World War II.

Writing to Portsmouth City Council, Jill said: “As an avid reader there was no way I would return the book until I had read it – which I did and thoroughly enjoyed. But the one thing I never had time to do was take her to the library.

“The Covid closures led to my decluttering and downplaying in general, and a drastic elimination of my books. Deep in a dusty shelf, I discovered this very overdue novel.

“Over the past sixty-four years it (along with about a thousand other books) has moved from Gosport to Southsea, back to Gosport, and finally to London, but I now think it is time for him to make the return trip.”

Portsmouth City Council has removed all outstanding library fines to encourage people to return to the library. Cllr Ben Dowling, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, said: “I am delighted that Jill contacted us to return the book.

“I hope this story inspires others to rediscover their library and not be afraid of previous fines. Portsmouth Libraries welcome everyone who lives, works or studies in the city, and the team are more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.”

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