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Tom Shellard, Mrs Houghton and Don Quixote – a literary puzzle

Tom Shellard, Mrs Houghton and Don Quixote – a literary puzzle

My husband is a Don Quixote fan, so I bought him this aged edition as a gift back in 2005. I have never read the novel and possibly never will (yes, I’m a literary heathen), but would have bought this book anyway simply for the story it tells about its previous owners.

The volume (bought from Barnardo’s Bookshop on Nicolson Street, Edinburgh) came with an accompanying note:

"Don QUIXOTE: Spain's greatest novel"

 I can’t make all of this out; my partial transcription is:


Spain’s greatest novel.

Given to me by Tom SHELLARD my literary mentor in my first year in xxxxxxxx in the xxxxxxxxx dept.. We talked more about literature than we did about xxxxx.

Newpaper bookmark: Saturday, February 15, 1958

The note isn’t signed, but the name ‘Mrs Houghton’ is written in pencil inside the front of the book in the same hand as the Barnardo’s selling price, so my guess is that Mrs Houghton donated this book to Barnardo’s and was the recipient of Tom Shellard’s original gift. A torn-off piece of the Daily Telegraph newspaper dated 1958 seems to have been used as a bookmark, so maybe the gift was given around this time.

It looks like Tom Shellard was given this book – possibly by his father – in 1933, as shown by the book’s inscription:

T.H. Seymour Shellard, 10th August 1933, Love Dad

It would be lovely to be able to be able to read all of Mrs Houghton’s note, and to be sure when she received this book as a gift. However, in addition, there appears to be a real twist – this edition of Don Quixote was illustrated by an ‘A.B. Houghton’. Is there a link there, is it coincidence, or have I assembled the pieces of this story all in the wrong order (with a bit too much assumption to boot)? If anyone thinks they can solve the puzzles, I would love to hear from you.

It seems wrong to tell you all about this book without showing you just what a lovely edition it is. For sheer indulgence, here is one of the illustrations that stood out to me when I was flicking through just now:


About SarahAnderson

I love old stuff and like to write.

3 responses »

  1. Can’t make out the name of the firm but it is ‘cooperage department’ and ‘casks’.

  2. Pingback: Mystery solved (or some of it) « The Auld from Reekie

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