William spent every penny on books. When he bought his first home, at 36, this meant he had a large library, but not one piece of furniture.
A resourceful man, he saw what must be done. He arranged his books by order of affection, a sinuous line around the empty flat. The unfortunate tomes at the bottom he used for chopping boards; others he piled into tables. A mattress atop three dozen volumes he declared as comfy as an oak bedstead. The rest he stacked into eye-high supports before finally balancing his most treasured books, with exquisite tenderness, on top.