A keen reader forgot about a library book they took out in 1975 before finally returning it nearly 50 years later.

The forgetful bookworm could have racked up more than £4,000 in fines as it was more than 17,000 days overdue.

The copy of Havelok the Warrior by Ian Serraillier should have been returned nearly five decades ago when it was taken out by a teenager at a library in Hastings, East Sussex.

It should have been returned by April 14, 1975, but only found its way back earlier this year during a seven-week book amnesty that ran from February 13 until the end of March.

Fines were waived for anyone who brought back more than 750 books still not returned to East Sussex’s libraries during this period.

Some 240 of those previously ‘lost’ books were re-loaned out to new customers, East Sussex County Council said.

It is estimated the longest overdue book – Havelok the Warrior – was outstanding for some 17,520 days.

The council currently charges 25p each day a book is overdue, so even with fluctuation in this fine figure, the owner could have been charged at least £4,300 had the amnesty not been in place.

Havelok the Warrior is about an exiled warrior prince who fought to regain his throne to become king of both Denmark and England.

Cllr Claire Dowling, lead member for transport and environment at East Sussex County Council, said: ‘It’s wonderful to see these books returned to our libraries, and I would like to thank our residents for searching out any overdue items and for taking the time to return them to us.

‘Unfortunately, every year nearly 5,000 books fail to be returned to East Sussex libraries.

‘The amnesty has seen many lost books return to our library shelves so books lovers can enjoy them once again.

‘If, when items are due to be returned, borrowers are not quite ready to part with them they can easily be renewed. Items can be renewed in person at any East Sussex library or easily online.’

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