The Least Successful Collector
Betsy Baker played a central role in the history of collecting. She
was employed as a servant in the house of John Warburton (1682-1759) who had
amassed a fine collection of 58 first edition plays, including most of the
works of Shakespeare.
One day Warburton returned home to find 55 of them charred beyond
legibility. Betsy had either burned them or used them as pie bottoms. The
remaining three folios are now in the British Museum.
The only comparable literary figure was the maid who in 1835 burned
the manuscript of the first volume of Thomas Carlyle's "The Hisory of the
French Revolution", thinking it was wastepaper.
-- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
This page was last modified on 2012 September 04.