Chicago Public Library's Amnesty Period Prompts Woman To Return Copy Of 'Dorian Gray' Overdue By 78 Years

Fear of the inevitably ginormous fine she’d face after hanging onto a Chicago Public Library copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde for 78 years too long kept one woman from bringing the overdue back to its proper place. But thanks to the library’s recent three-week amnesty period, the book has finally been returned.

To be fair, reports the Chicago Tribune, it wasn’t entirely the woman’s fault. It all started when her mom’s childhood friend checked out the copy of the 1911 edition in 1934 and never returned it. She even wrote her own name in the front of the book.

Somehow it ended up with her mother, and the daughter found it in her deceased mother’s belongings back in 1993. But since then, she’d been too scared of huge fines or even legal consequences for turning it in so late.

“When I heard about the amnesty, I thought, ‘This is it! This is my second chance,'” the woman said of the program, which ends on Sept. 7 and granted forgiveness of all overdue fines.

This isn’t any normal copy of the Wilde book — it was part of a 14-volume set of his writings printed in 1911, and only 480 copies of each set were ever printed. Back in 1917 when the CPL obtained its copy, the book was purchased for $27.50. That would be about $492.22 today.

If there’s ever a time to return a book 78 years late, it’s pretty wise to wait until a convenient amnesty period, eh? Especially since even an overdue Twilight DVD and book can get you put in the hoosegow these days.

The ballad of reading guilt [Chicago Tribune]