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March 2013

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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"



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