February 14, 2019

World’s most endearing woman returns library book 73 years later


A family of literature lovers committed a library crime—but they were met with an unexpected response.

Upon returning a book that was almost 27,000 days overdue, Mora Gregg received interview requests and internet glory instead of a fine. Gregg checked out the children’s book The Postman by Charlotte Kuh (Macmillan, 1929) during a library visit with her mother when she was just a toddler. Gregg, now 75,  speaks fondly of the library trips with her mother in her recent interview with Nora Krug at The Washington Post. She grew up to be a librarian herself and had experience with extremely overdue returns. She is now retired, but recalls times when she wrote thank you notes to library patrons that returned books many years after checking them out. 

Gregg discovered the copy of The Postman while she was dusting one of her bookshelves. To keep her books organized, she gets rid of a book each time she brings in a new one. (Imagine how organized your bookshelves would be if you were this disciplined.) The book is now too fragile to be in circulation, but Gregg thought the library would appreciate the gesture anyways.

Although the book was missing from the library for 73 years and Gregg didn’t have to pay a fine, we think the Gregg women have repaid the reading community. The book was read by three generations in the family and Gregg’s daughter also went on to be a librarian. 



Christina Cerio is the Manager of Direct Sales & Special Projects at Melville House.