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Dedicated by Burgess.

I've been wanting to blog this for ages, but I've never managed to make the scanner work properly... that is till now.

Some years back, my dad was browsing the shelves of NovelHut, Ipoh's best second-hand bookstore, and found a copy of Anthony Burgess's Time for a Tiger. Price? RM2. (That would be approximately USD$0.60 or GBP£0.30).

Did I mention it was a hardcover first edition? Here's the dedication page, with the famous dedication written in Jawi. Jawi is the Malay language written in Arab script, a norm early last century. Nowadays, Malay is written in Romanised form. The dedication says: "Kepada sahabat-sahabat saya di Tanah Melayu" which translates into "To my friends in Malaya." On the opposite page, proof this is the first edition.

A first edition is probably valuable by itself. But this copy has something extra that makes it even more special--a personal dedication by Burgess himself to a friend:

If you can't make the writing out, it says:
Lilian Sivaram

In friendship
--Anthony Burgess
(John Wilson)

Xmas 1956
I think it is the MOST AWESOME THING EVER to have a book personally signed by a famous writer friend! (John Wilson is Anthony Burgess's real name.)

But a few questions arise:
  1. Who is Lilian Sivaram?
  2. Why was this book--obviously valuable to its owner--found in a second-hand bookstore in Ipoh going for merely a song?
I don't know the answers but we can speculate. Lilian Sivaram was obviously some one close to Burgess during his days in Kuala Kangsar. Possibly the inspiration for the character of Rosemary in Beds in the East, the third book in the Malayan Trilogy? When Lilian passed away, her books were sold off by her children, who like most Malaysians don't care much about books. And that's how it eventually got into my father's hands (and now, mine).

It probably isn't far away from the truth. In the meantime, this book occupies a very special place in my library!


  1. Totally awesome, Ted. A really special book in your collection.

  2. It is, isn't it? I was totally blown away when my dad gave the book to me!

  3. A beautiful addition to your bookshelf. I envy you.

  4. putting aside the fact that i'm soooo jealous (can i hold it ted? please please??) i'm thoroughly thrilled for you. your uncle told me about this copy but i didn't know that it was "time for a tiger" - he said 2nd part of the trilogy

    your uncle (well HE says) was given several signed copies but they got stolen - just think what they would be worth today!

    as for your mysterious lady - the great oracle google giveth us the message

    she was a teacher and belonged to the malayan teachers union penang in 2001 - could still be alive

    the original article with picture should be obtainable from the nst by someone with a subscription

    it is such a good story that i think that you should think about tracking her down via the nst. the journalist may well still work for them

    we should think about a book about burgess in malaya w. interviews and pics and stories

  5. btw the copy is worth perhaps more than US$2,000

    see this entry on

    for a similar signed first edition priced at US$2,695 - RM9,157

    not bad for a book that cost a coupla ringgit!!

    of course if it has lost it's dust cover it will fetch less

    but if you can prove a connection with this lady and the book ... wow

    wow i so gotta blog this story too

  6. A teacher! Of course! Who else would she be! :D (Now why didn't I think of googling her? Groan)

    Unfortunately, as much as I would want to dig up the archives of the NST, I don't think I'd have the time for now. (My wedding...) Someone else will have to do it... Sharon?

    As for the book's value... WOW! I didn't expect it to be that much! But saying that, my copy's probably worth a lot less. No dust cover for one, and if you look carefully at one of the images I posted, bookworms (the bad kind) have gone through the book a little.

    Also, I remember now that my father bought this book to give to my uncle, but I'm not sure why he gave it to me instead. I'll ask him later. Also also, if Lilian's a teacher, then there's a very high chance my uncle would've known her.

  7. i've blogged it and dropped the uk bookshop a line inviting them to take a look!

  8. Then another, and maybe quicker, way to find out about this lady is to ask your uncle, Ted.

  9. Sharon: Thanks for blogging it! Haha... I wonder what the bookpeople will say...

    Chet: That sounds like a good idea in theory, but thing is... my uncle's notorious for being the most unreliable person in the world (just ask Sharon). He's never around and never has his handphone switched on when you need him. I will try to ask him... but I doubt it will be anytime soon! :D

  10. and he's also the world's biggest bullshitter, ted!

  11. Exactly! No one knows when he's telling the truth...

  12. no wonder he and burgess were so matey!!

  13. Ted,

    How lucky you are!

    I bet it will be more difficult for me to find good books on my next visit to Novel hut...

  14. dehemit ted! by the author himself? a rare treasure find my friend :D

  15. The lilian sivaram is alive and kicking. She is retired from teaching. The author was her lecturer.You can contact her at


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