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Man Donates Late Wife’s 2,000+ Puffin Book Collection To Children’s Museum

Paul High gifts extensive Puffin story book collection to The Story Museum in Oxford.

A man is donating his late wife’s collection of more than 2,000 Puffin story books to a children’s museum.


Paul High, 81, will give every single edition ranging from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson to The Story Museum in Oxford.


His late wife Elizabeth, who died three years ago, studied English at Oxford and completed a postgraduate degree in children’s literature at Warwick before becoming a teacher alongside her husband.


Paul, of Newbury, Berks., said she had a particular fascination with illustrated children’s books which spurred her on to start the collection. “Her main interest in teaching was telling kids stories. It gave us an excuse to go into charity shops. When she died, we decided as a family that if we could, we’d keep the collection together,” said Paul.


Elizabeth’s collecting began when the 2,000th Puffin book – I Like This Story: A Taste of Fifty Favorites chosen by Kaye Webb – was released in 1986. After she bought I Like This Story she decided to collect the first 2,000 books in the extensive Puffin story book collection.


Elizabeth asked her three children and 10 grandchildren to help complete the collection and they would regularly find editions she was missing. The Highs loved to travel, and sourced some of the Puffin books in far-flung places such as New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. Before she died, Elizabeth managed to source all 2,000 editions which all now fit on three large bookshelves in her study at their home.


A local publisher and friend, Nick Battle, suggested that Paul should get in contact with Allen Lane, one of the publishing houses under the Penguin umbrella named after Penguin’s founder. Two of its trustees came to view the collection and urged the High family to keep the collection together, before they searched for an appropriate place to donate it to.


The trustees advised Paul to donate it to The Story Museum in Oxford, a family museum dedicated to educating through the power of storytelling. Paul visited the museum for the first time at the end of last year and met the curator who said that the museum would be “delighted” to receive Elizabeth’s impressive collection.


“What I hope to do, when the museum have actually collected it and taken it, is to have a thank you celebration with my children, grandchildren and friends somewhere in Oxford,” said Paul.


He is still in contact with some of his late wife’s roommates at Westminster College whom she studied with 60 years ago, and he hopes they will join him and his family at the celebration.


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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