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Thomas Carlyle. Credit: Eliott & Fry (Public domain)

One day in 1835, famed historian Thomas Carlyle was dismayed to learn that his maid had burned the manuscript of the first volume of his History of the French Revolution. She had mistaken it for wastepaper.

Similarly, John Warburton (1682-1759), who amassed a collection of 58 first edition plays (including most of the works of Shakespeare), returned home one day and was dismayed to learn that his maid Betsy Baker had either burned them or used them as pie bottoms. All but three (now in the British Museum) were charred beyond recognition.

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