Is Defacing Books Shameless and Repulsive?

defaced library book, The 3 Faces of Eve

defaced library book, The 3 Faces of Eve, Islington Library

I have an embarrassing confession to make. I don’t get the theater. I can’t get past the idea that grown adults are up on stage “acting out”. I have remarkably pedestrian taste in theater. Foe example, I loved is Nicholas Hynter’s revival of Carousel. I make an exception for Joe Orton’s work. Between 1964 and 1967, Joe Orton helped reinvent the British theater with a working class attitude. He was the toast of an ‘alternative British intelligentsia’. His plays, Entertaining Mr. Sloane and Loot were commercial and critical successes. Unfortunately, Orton’s success as a playwright and his increasing celebrity led to a breakdown of his relationship with his lover of more than a decade, Kenneth Halliwell. In August 1967 Halliwell, suffering from severe depression, murdered Orton before killing himself. His suicide note referred to the contents of Orton’s diary as an explanation of his actions: ‘If you read his diary, all will be explained …’

Years before Orton achieved success he spent time in prison for defacing library books. I don’t approve of this action, but some of the covers are hilarious. I would much rather read The 3 Faces of Eve if one of Eve’s personalities were a cat. And the compendium of the theatrical family, The Lunts redesigned with the Lunts represented by Christmas bric-a-brac is wonderful. He also defaced the flyleaf descriptions for the books, making them sound far more interesting.

Please note: racy copy below

Replacing the original copy in the flyleaf of ‘Clouds of Witness’ by Dorothy L Sayers:

defaced flyleaf

defaced flyleaf, Islington Library

When little Betty Macdree says that she has been interfered with, her mother at first laughs. It is only something that the kiddy has picked up from the television. But when sorting through the laundry Mrs Macdree discovers that a new pair of knickers are missing. On being questioned, Betty bursts into tears. Mrs Macdree takes her down to the police station and to everyone’s surprise the little girl identifies Police Constable Brenda Coolidge as her attacker. Brenda, a new recruit, denies everything. A search is made of the women’s barracks. What is found is a seven inch phallus and a pair of knickers of the kind worn by Betty. All looks black for kindly P.C. Coolidge. What can she do? This is one of the most enthralling stories ever written by Miss Sayers. It is the only one where the murder weapon is concealed not for reasons of fear but for reasons of decency. Read this behind closed doors.

Joe Orton

Joe Orton

defaced library book, The Lunts

defaced library book, The Lunts, Islington Library

defaced library book, Secret Chimneys

defaced library book, Secret Chimneys, Islington Library

defaced library book, Death Takes a Partner

defaced library book, Death Takes a Partner

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6 Responses to “Is Defacing Books Shameless and Repulsive?”

  1. marian bantjes Says:

    You’ve seen the movie “Prick up your ears” yes? If not, Do.

  2. Nancy Bernard Says:

    Ya gotta laugh. It’s healthy!

  3. Christina Jackson Says:

    Sean/Noreen:
    I absolutely adore everything about this blog – the name, the tag (Daily Dirty & Dangerous), the writing and the images. Given the brains and creativity behind this, not surprised that it’s great AND that it’s the only blog I read religiously.

    My 2 cents,
    Christina

  4. Sean Says:

    Thank you so much. I have a great time working on it.

  5. Sean Says:

    They’re really remarkable, check out the others at the Islington link.

  6. Sean Says:

    Absolutely, I love the title. Say if fast.