order to preserve Halliwell's dwindling inheritance, between
1957 and 1959 both took jobs for 6 months of the year,
earning £30 per week. This was used to purchase
a small 16' x 12’ bed-sit flat in 25 Noel Road,
Infuriated at the poor choice of books at their local
library, Orton and Halliwell conspired a curious revenge
- they began stealing and altering books. Plates were
removed from art books and used to create collages on
the walls of the bed-sit. More inventively, they began
altering books, creating new covers and writing new blurbs
on the dust jackets. Orton recalled
‘I used to stand in the corners after
I’d smuggled the doctored books back into the library
and then watch people read them. It was very fun, very
Islington Library did not share the joke and set about
tracking the culprits down. On April 28th 1962 police
raided the flat and Orton and Halliwell were arrested.
They were charged with stealing 72 books and removal of
1,653 plates from art books, used to decorate the flat.
Pleading guilty to 5 charges of malicious damage at Islington
Magistrates they were sentenced to 6 months in prison.
This seemed a harsh sentence and later Orton commented
that the court had realised they were gay and that the
severity of the sentence was ‘because
we were queers’.