Prized Byron book at bring-and-buy

Marilyn Solana
Marilyn Solana

A MISSING book of condolences that was filled in at Hucknall Parish Church in the aftermath of the death of Lord Byron has been unearthed at a bring-and-buy sale in the USA.

The book was picked up by Marilyn Solana, who bought it for the bargain price of $35 (£22) at the event in Savannah, Georgia.

Now, after researching its origins, she has travelled to Edinburgh to donate it to the National Library of Scotland — much to the disappointment of Ken Purslow, chairman of Newstead Abbey Byron Society (NABS).

The library houses the world‘s most extensive collection of Byron works. But Mr Purslow had hoped the book could be returned to the church on Market Place where Byron is buried.

He said: “I am disappointed it is going to Scotland. But I understand they have better tools to tidy it up and refurbish it.”

Instead the church will have to make do with a digital copy, which will be created by the library.

“I still would have liked it to be displayed at the church after the restoration,” added Mr Purslow, who is one of the main organisers of the annual International Byron Festival in Hucknall.

The book records the personal tributes and poems of mourners who travelled to Hucknall to honour Byron after his death. It remained at the church for more than nine years until it was completely full.

It is a mystery how it disappeared.

One report from 1849 suggests the book was given by the parish clerk to a friend.

The book sparked little interest among bargain hunters at the bring-and-buy sale because of its poor condition and lack of a cover. It remained unsold at the end of the day.

But Mrs Solana, who was helping out at the event, had spotted it earlier and decided to buy it.

David McClay, curator at the National Library of Scotland, commented that it was “a remarkable find” that was of “international interest”.