Okay, that’s probably a terribly drastic way to keep prying eyes away from hotly pursued manuscripts of books that won’t be out for months and months, and it’s hard not to feel a little sorry for the Penguin UK publishing employee who, running late to work, accidentally left behind the manuscript of Jeanette Winterson‘s THE STONE GODS, due for publication in the UK this fall. But when one leaves behind near the Balham Underground station, someone else – like 27 year old Martha Oster (pictured, left, with the aforementioned manuscript) – will pick it up, as the BBC reports and all manner of litblogs have picked up.
Simon Prosser, the company’s publishing director, said the incident was “terribly unfortunate,” but added it was simply human error. “If someone is reading a manuscript on the Tube home or the bus as they often do, then it is very possible that you might leave it,” he said. “In this case someone was reading the manuscript, or partial copy of the manuscript, and because it was late, left it behind. She went back to the station to try and retrieve it, spoke to the cleaners, but could not find it anywhere.” Oster said she recognized Winterson’s name immediately.”I studied ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT for A-level, and I have a couple of her books at home. She is one of my favourite authors, so I recognised her name straight away, and the writing is very much in her style.”