MYSTERY surrounds the identity of a woman who plucked up the courage to return a very late library book – 55 years after it was due back.

The pensioner, whose identity is not known, delivered the copy of Regency Furniture 1795-1820 to Witney Library, wanting to know how much she owed in fines.

But staff politely turned down her offer. The fine after such a long time would have been almost £1,000.

Her identity remains unknown as records do not go as far back as 1958 and she did not give any details when she dropped the book off on July 8.

It is also not known if she was the person who originally borrowed the book, written by furniture author Margaret Jourdain and originally published in 1934.

The hardback, leatherbound book is now being kept at the library in Holton.

Jane Mason, reading services manager for adults, said: “An elderly woman came into our Witney library about two weeks ago on a Monday lunchtime and she nervously spoke to one of the staff about returning the book.

“She seemed embarrassed about it and wanted to pay the fine but as the book is so old we wouldn’t ask for that.

“We don’t have records that go that far back so we don’t know who it was originally lent to.

“It wasn’t in a great condition. It is well worn but still readable. It is interesting as the quality of the book is probably much better than those produced today, although in black and white.

“This situation is very rare. Normally if someone hasn’t returned a book in three years we wouldn’t get it back.

“I have been working here for 23 years and I have never heard of anything similar.

“The book is about antiques and now seems to be an antique itself.”

Ms Mason, 50, added that the book could be sold to raise money for the library service, but it would only make up to £10 as it is still in print.

In January last year, the Oxford Mail reported that more than 20,000 books remained unreturned to Oxford University libraries.

Almost £50m was collected in fines by the uni libraries in the previous six years.

s Are you the woman who returned the book or do you know her? Call us on 01865 425437 or email