Today’s post – including the title – is entirely down to the work of Colin Macaulay. Colin blogs at The Scottish Aeneas, tweets at @Aeneas7c and has been busy solving the mystery of the Don Quixote volume that I blogged about a couple of days ago.
The inscription in the front of the Don Quixote volume is:
T.H. Seymour Shellard, 10th August 1933, Love Dad
Colin has tracked down a family of Shellards who lived in Dublin, and one of name Thomas HS Shellard who was born in 1903 (information from Ancestry.com). So we now know a little more about the original owner of the volume.
The real puzzle came from a note which accompanied the volume:
I had some real trouble transcribing this, only being able to come up with:
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.
Colin made out the second illegible word as cooperage (cask-making), and the third as casks. Colin then did a search for cooperages in Dublin and found the obvious one – Guinness! This is the first illegible word, giving us the complete text:
Spain’s greatest novel.
Given to me by Tom SHELLARD my literary mentor in my first year in Guinness in the cooperage dept.. We talked more about literature than we did about casks.
So we now know that the original owner of the book, Tom Shellard, worked as a cask-maker at Guinness in Dublin.
The second puzzle for me was where the lady who (I assume) donated the book to Barnardo’s, a Mrs Houghton, fitted in. I had thought that Tom Shellard had gifted the book to Mrs Houghton but, as Colin has pointed out, it’s unlikely that a woman was working in a cooperage. Instead, Colin suggests that Mrs Houghton somehow came into possession of the book later.
The final piece of the puzzle: what is the relationship between the Mrs Houghton who gifted this book to Barnardo’s and the A.B. Houghton who illustrated this edition of Don Quixote? This we don’t know. However, as Colin has found out, Arthur Boyd (i.e. A.B.) Houghton was a British painter and illustrator who lived in the nineteenth century. Maybe Mrs Houghton was interested in the work of her namesake, as Colin suggests, and came into possession of the book that way?
So, mystery solved, as much as it may ever be. This has been one of the most enjoyable blog posts I have done so far and it is entirely thanks to the detective work of Colin Macaulay. I mentioned Colin’s blog in yesterday’s post – be sure to visit The Scottish Aeneas! Oh, and be sure to visit your local Barnardo’s bookshop – who knows what you might find…