A Horsell woman enjoyed a pre-Christmas windfall thanks to an autographed copy of a popular children’s book by Beatrix Potter.

“My husband Paul and I were clearing out my late mother-in-law’s flat in West Byfleet when we found a signed copy of The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck,” said Helen Trotter.

“She had lots of books and was a bit of a hoarder, so it was a mammoth job to sort out her place. 

“We very nearly threw the book out and it was only because Paul, her son, remembered a story about it growing up that he happened to look inside the front cover and saw the signature.

“It was only by chance that we opened the front cover and didn’t throw it out.

“It was dated April 3, 1937 and we believe she and her twin brother were given a book by their schoolteacher, who had taken a shine to them when they were five years old and who had been to a book-signing event.”

Consigned to Ewbank’s auctioneers in Send, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck was described as being “signed by the author” and its provenance as “gifted to the vendor by the original owner, born in 1932, who was given this autographed book as a child by a schoolteacher friend of her parents. The schoolteacher had been to an event in Liverpool in 1937 where this book was signed in person for her by Beatrix Potter.”

The lot sold for £900.