Library book returned 50 years late with apology and £20

Staff at Paisley Central Library were stunned at the return on Mr's Balbir Singh's Indian Cookery book.

Library book returned 50 years late with apology and £20 Paisley Central Library

A book borrowed from a library in Renfrewshire more than 50 years ago has finally been returned.

Staff at Paisley Central Library were stunned at the return on Mr’s Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery book, which had been last loaned out in 1968.

The book, published by Mills and Boon in 1965, was delivered by post in a large white padded bag along with a £20 note and an anonymous letter apologising for the return being so long overdue.

The letter accompanying it said: “Please accept my apologies for the late return of this book.

“Enclosed is a token payment in recognition of this oversight. Thank you.”

The £20 is now going to be donated to charity, as Renfrewshire Libraries is currently not charging a fine for the return of overdue books. 

Balbir Singh was born in the Punjab in 1912 and became an internationally renowned chef, cookery teacher and cookbook author. 

Her Mrs Balbir’s Singh’s Indian Cookery book was met with much acclaim when it was first published in London in 1961, and went on to inspire future generations of Indian chefs and home cooks. 

The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide and several editions with revisions, and recipe additions were printed in the following years.

Mrs Balbir Singh died in 1994.

Linda Flynn, Paisley Central Library Team Supervisor said: “I was more than a little surprised when I opened the padded envelope and saw what was inside.

“It’s rare to have a book returned after being overdue for so many years. I suspect the book had been lying in a cupboard or a drawer for some time and was only recently discovered.

“It was a lovely gesture from whoever found the book to take the time to send it back with a £20 note as a token gesture for it being so long overdue. We’ll make sure the money goes to a good cause.”

Linda added: “You could see that the book had been well used and some of the marks on the pages suggested that someone had followed the recipes to make a good few dinners.

“Unfortunately, the book isn’t in a condition to put back on our shelves for people to borrow, but since it’s become a talking point among library staff, we’ll keep it in a safe place.”