Byron treasure found in gift to used bookshop — The Independent — Paul Gallagher
Now a donation to the second-hand bookshop at Harewood House, in Yorkshire, has provided a unique insight into the Leigh family history and Augusta’s place in one of the biggest scandals to rock Georgian society. Although condemned to poverty for the last 33 years of her life, Augusta, the only daughter of Amelia Osborne and John “Mad Jack” Byron, the poet’s father, retained a passion for reading. Her rediscovered literary treasures, inscribed by Augusta and members of her family, belonged to a woman in her 80s who had had them for 40 years without realising their provenance. She acquired the books with a London house in the 1970s Ω the bookshelves were too large to move, so the seller left them, and their contents, behind.
Volunteers at the bookshop were intrigued by an inscription in The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, reading: “Augusta Leigh, St James’ Palace.”
“That raised my eyebrows,” said Audrey Kingsnorth, the Harewood volunteer who led the research. “I had no idea who Augusta was… That’s when I started looking into the family and saw the [Byron] connection.”
I think the funny part is that the donor was so excited about what the volunteers told her that she donated more rare books (Lilliputian books, small volumes to show off printers’ ability).