Monday, June 04, 2007

Looking for Lilian

It's quite fascinating to acquire an antiquarian tome with an inscription on the fly-leaf, so that you can imagine those long ago folks enjoying the book before you.

It's even better when you discover that the inscription was written by the author and signed for a personal friend.

It's much much better when the book in question just happens to be a first edition copy of an extremely important work by one of the C20th's greatest authors.

Can it get betterer?

Oh, yes it can. Ted Mahsun's dad found this copy of Time for a Tiger in a second-hand bookshop in Ipoh and snapped it up for just two ringgit. The inscription reads:
Lilian Sivaram

In friendship
--Anthony Burgess
(John Wilson)

Xmas 1956
I checked for a similar edition, signed by the author and found one via abebooks.com currently on sale from Jonkers Rare Books in Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, U.K.

Price? (Don't faint!) US$2695.13 (RM9,157)

Ted's copy won't be worth as much as it is missing the dust cover and has been nibbled by some naughty bookworms. But still.

But it's the inscription that intrigues. Who is/was Lilian Sivaram?

I consulted the oracle at my finger tips and turned up this reference to an article simply called Malayan Teachers Reunion by D. Maheshwari from the of the New Straits Times (City Advertiser's Happenings section), Feb 22, 2001.

I don't have access to the NST archives so if anyone reading this post does have, could you help us to find the picture referred to so we can see what the lady looks like?

If this is indeed the lady, then she was a teacher, possibly a colleague of Burgess at MCKK.

Burgess did give copies of the book to his friends. Ted's uncle, one of my favourite people in the whole wide world, says that he received several copies of the book himself, but he left them in storage and they got stolen.

Anyway, the moral of the story is 1) poke about in second-hand bookshops because you never know what treasures you may uncover 2) invest in hardback first-edition books and store them carefully, and then get them signed if you can track the author down. Because I doubt that even gold or diamonds would give you such an amazing rate of interest.

But then, would a true book-lover be able to part with a treasure like this??

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

i'm going to Ipoh next week! where is that bookshop?!??!!


Viz

Subashini said...

never, never, never. i can't imagine acquiring something like this and wanting to part with it. (when you're dead, however, i'm sure some practical-minded grandchild is going to make the best of it...)

the lady's name intrigues me just because i have a cousin named sivaram. :)

but thanks for sharing the story, sharon... two ringgit!!! it boggles the mind. what an amazing find.

YTSL said...

Hi Sharon --

Sorry for the off-topic comments but consider yourself tagged. (Please come over to my blog once more to see what this is all about! Also, yes, I know that it's been a while since I was last in touch -- mea culpa!)

Ted Mahsun said...

Viz, the bookshop, Novel Hut, is on the third floor of Ipoh Parade. Have fun. Its selection of magazine back-issues is more impressive than it's stock of books however... so don't put your hopes too high on finding a rare book.

I would never EVER part with the book, but it would be nice to know the value.

Anonymous said...

thanks, Ted.


Viz

irene said...

Ted: Is Novel Hut still going strong, then? The Novel House chain in Klang Valley seems to have folded.

I used to love going to Ipoh to get my glasses done, as there was a Novel Hut in Yik Foong complex, the same place where my optometrist set up shop. Don't know if that outlet is still open... it was in some obscure corner on one of the higher floors.

SecretHistory said...

Hey Sharon, did you get the idea of this entry from me? I still have not found a cheap copy on ebay yet.

bibliobibuli said...

got the idea by stealing ted's story!! (if i keep coming back toi this book it's because i love it and think averyone should read it) if you haven't found a cheap copy why not buy a new one. it should be easier to get now. and there is no problem with the american title ("the long day wanes") which you can get from kinokuniya! treat yourself!!

Ted Mahsun said...

Stealing? Nah... this is sharing! I'll show you the book one day, Sharon. I just have to figure out how to transport it without the risk of ruining it (now that I know it's REALLY valuable).

Irene: Novel Hut's still doing fine. They moved from Yik Foong to Ipoh Parade years ago. They have another branch behind Kinta City but I'm not sure if that's still open or not.

Chet said...

Ted - what about a Ziplock bag?

bibliobibuli said...

ted - keep the copy safe. one day i'll catch up with you and it! (in a glass showcase in your new home??)

Anonymous said...

"1) poke about in second-hand bookshops because you never know what treasures you may uncover'

That is so very true... I came across a novel written by an ex-madam that basically detailed life in a whorehouse, very revealing (pun not intended :) )

Also I came across a very old detective novel in which people ejaculated a lot, and they were doing nothing but arguing ! :)

caving liz said...

2 weeks ago I bought a copy of the Malayan Trilogy, Penguin paperback, for 10p on ebay, which is about 40c in Malaysian money!

Yusuf/Martin said...

Good Grief don't tell everyone about our little goldmine of books, or is that a book mine?, mmm not to sure, anyway, shhh, finger up to lips.

In all fairness Ipoh has two "Novel Huts" one slightly more expensive than the other, though I am not certain why!

But they are a wonderful resource for reading books.

Yusuf/Martin said...

And yes both are open - the one behind Kinta City and the one in Ipoh Parade

Anonymous said...

Dear Sharon

I knew Lilian Sivaram but have lost contact with her for the past 10 years. I belive she lives in Subang Jaya with her son Dinesh Nadarajah. You can contact him at 019 3109021. I am very sure she will be very trilled with the finding. The book probably belonged to her.

This is a small world indeed!!

All the best.

Anonymous

bibliobibuli said...

thanks a lot for leaving this comment. i will pass the news to Ted Mahsun .... it would be lovely to find the answer to this.