Books: Wise Books

In little England's 49 counties, 38,173,950 inhabitants, there are enough queer characters to people a small planet. Some of these oddities are rich, most of them are eminently respectable. Last fortnight, when the British Museum bought the Ashley Library, a posthumous footnote was added to the career of one of England's rich, respected, eccentric individuals. Thomas James Wise was not only the collector and owner of the world's finest private collection of English literature. He was a literary forger.

Son of a successful businessman, Collector Wise succumbed to the bibliophilic passion early, sometimes...

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