Montreal

Montreal 'book fairy' gifts 1st-edition Virginia Woolf novel

A Montreal woman is trying to find the person who anomyously left a note in her mailbox, along with a 1st edition copy of one of Virginia Woolf's novels.

Package containing Three Guineas, published in 1938, left in mailbox

Anne Lagacé Dowson hopes to personally thank the person who left a note and book anonymously in her mailbox. (Courtesy Anne Lagacé Dowson)

Anne Lagacé Dowson usually receives packages in the mail, but none of them ever looked quite like this.

On Monday, she found a package "tidily wrapped" in bubble wrap and masking tape, stuffed in her mailbox.

It had no name, no return address, no writing on it at all.

At first, she admitted she was concerned about what could be inside.

"For a moment something sort of flashed through my mind," Dowson told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"I thought: should I be suspicious?"

But when she opened the package, she was pleasantly surprised to find a book inside: a first-edition copy of Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas, published in 1938.

"It's not in perfect shape, but it's a really beautiful cloth-bound edition," said Dowson, a former CBC employee and NDP candidate.

A note from the anonymous benefactor was inside.

The "book fairy" wrote that they have been secretly gifting books to strangers since 2000, and said that rather than selling the book, they would like to see it in the hand of someone who appreciated Woolf's work.

Seen through the window

The note stated that they thought to give Dowson the book after seeing a poster of Woolf through the window of Dowson's home.

"I admit to looking innocently into people's homes," the note read, calling it an "aesthetic curiosity."

"So somebody saw the image, had the book, packaged up the book and put it in my mailbox as a completely gratuitous gift," said Dowson.

When asked if the idea of someone peeking into her home disturbed her, Dowson said that she did feel "maybe a little twinge" of discomfort.

"But if I was really creeped out, I wouldn't leave my blind up and my light on at night."

Wanting to say thank you

Dowson reached out on social media to see if she could identify the "book fairy," to no avail.

She hopes she will have the chance to personally thank the person who left her the book.

"If the book fairy is [out there], it would be really nice if you presented yourself so I can thank you formally," Dawson said.

"But I know fairies are very elusive," she added, laughing.

With files from CBC Daybreak