A limited edition copy of Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was returned to the Chicago Public Library as part of a rare amnesty program. The library, which is the third largest in the United States had not noticed the old book had been missing for the past 78 years.
The book had been checked out in 1934 but Harlean Hoffman Vision had decided not to return the book to the library for fear of hefty fine or even jail time. The apologetic vision told the Chicago Tribune her mother, Sylvia Hoffman, had been gifted the Oscar Wilde book by a childhood friend. Vision only discovered the special edition copy printed in London’s Edinburgh Society, in her mother’s attic, after her death, in 1993.
According to the Library’s marketing director Ruth Lednicer “She kept saying, 'You're not going to arrest me?' and we said, 'No, we're so happy you brought it back'."
Brian Bannon, the commissioner of the Library said Vision brought the book back because of their unusual amnesty program.
Reuters calculated that if Vision was charged for late fees her bill would run to $6,000.
Earlier this year a Eucharistic Congress book was returned to library in Ireland after 80 years.
Their fine of over $5,144 was also waived.
The edition of “Dorian Gray” returned to the Library was part of the 14-volume set of writings published by the Edinburgh Society in London in 1911. Only 480 copies were printed.
The book also includes a pencil portrait of Oscar Wilde from 1881, which originally belonged to his friend, Robert Ross.