Malicious Damage: The Defaced Library Books of Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton, by Ilsa Colsell

Donlon Books, £35 (hardcover)

By Oliver Basciano

Beautifully produced, this is an in-depth history, and annotated collection, of the library books systematically ‘defaced’ by playwright Joe Orton and his artist and writer boyfriend, Kenneth Halliwell. Author Ilsa Colsell runs through the story chronologically, intricately footnoting her almost entirely original research to a litany of primary sources, detailing how Orton and Halliwell met at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, lived together (this was prior to the 1967 decriminalisation of homosexuality) and would, for each other’s amusement and…

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