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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

A Janeite goes home

A man whose love for Jane Austen helped sustain him during a brutal ten-month battle with COVID and its aftermath finally returned to his London home last week.

Geoffrey Woolf, 74, a recently retired lawyer, was hospitalized last March, spent two months on a ventilator, and then suffered a virus-induced stroke. Although he left acute care in August, he has spent the months since undergoing in-patient rehabilitation for paralysis and aphasia, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Last year, as Woolf lay in a coma, his adult sons tried to keep him stimulated with audiobooks, especially his longtime favorite, Pride and Prejudice. Told he would probably not survive, they decided to honor his love of reading by launching a non-profit, Books for Dad, which provides Kindle e-readers loaded with audiobooks to hospitalized COVID patients.

Woolf is believed to be the UK’s longest-hospitalized COVID patient, and the illness has forever changed him. “His new life brings difficulties,” his sons wrote on the Books for Dad website. “He is paralysed and his brain has been damaged by strokes caused by Covid, but the twinkle in his eye is still very much there.”

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