Appearing on tonight’s episode of the BBC One series, the man revealed that he is a curator at Hawkshead Grammar School in Cumbria, which William Wordsworth attended.
William was an English romantic poet who was a pupil during his formative years, attending from 1779 to 1787.
Expert Justin Croft even went as far as to label him as ‘one of Britain’s greatest poets’.
‘What I know of William Wordsworth is that he was a seriously diligent pupil, he was a prodigy, he was already writing poetry at this day,’ he explained.
The curator showed Justin a scrappy looking school book that the expert says had been ‘read to pieces by grubby school boy hands’.
He added: ‘The spines off, it’s in its original boards, but there is the name William Wordsmith, presumably scribed in his own hand.’
The man explained that the books were quite regularly read by school children and, if the teacher wasn’t looking, they would sign their names with quills and ink.
‘He would have been 14 or 15. He didn’t know he was going to become famous,’ the curator said.
The surprises didn’t end there, as he also brought with him a copy of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, which was in impeccable condition and used as a schoolbook in the library.
‘This is an edition of the 15th century, from 1561, printed in London, gorgeous black letter text, really conjuring up the Middle Ages for us. There is an inscription in the book which actually situates it in the library very early on. This book was given the fifth day of March 1676,’ Justin revealed.
‘This book has been here in the lakes for 300 years. It’s a great edition of one of the first works of English literature.’
Justin believes William would have poured over this book while he attended the school, which could have perhaps provided him with inspiration for his own work.
The expert added: ‘He later talked about Chaucer being the morning star of English poetry and, to me, that is a tremendously powerful connection between one of England’s first poets and one of England’s greatest poets several hundred years on.’
The most shocking fact was that, together, these books would be worth somewhere between £20k and £30k.
‘I better be pretty careful putting them back on the shelf then. I didn’t expect that,’ the man responded, clearly blown away by the figure.
Antiques Roadshow returns next Sunday at 7pm on BBC One.
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