“I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages some one long gone has called my attention to,” wrote Helene Hanff in 84 Charing Cross Road. Now that John Bayley is selling off the book collection of Iris Murdoch, his late wife, the Babu can just visualise what Hanff’s response to the Murdoch books would have been. “Dame Iris filled the margins of hundreds of her books with her thoughts and notes prompted by what she was reading. Some are brief, but others run over 10 pages,” The Guardian says.

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