Samuel Becket. Photo by Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images.

LONDON - We have been working hard in dealing with the contents of the Estate of my old friend in the book world, Mr. Stanley Eker. I have known him since the mid-1980s and throughout that time he has tantalised the entire community of scholars, institutions, collectors, agents, dealers and indeed anyone with the remotest interest in the works of the ‘last great modernist’ Samuel Beckett.

My entire adult working life has been punctuated with my contact with Stanley. And what did he tease us all with? The last great complete manuscript of its kind: that for Beckett’s first published novel, Murphy, which Stanley cleverly acquired in the late 1960s before Beckett mania took over, clutching it close to his chest ever since, while he virtually lived in the auction rooms watching prices inexorably rise. I have discussed its value and quality more than any other object (personal or professional) in the last 25 years. Now, suddenly, and finally, here it is before me, and I shall rise to the rostrum to knock it down to a lucky buyer on 10 July.


The complete autograph draft manuscript of Samuel Beckett’s novel “Murphy” will be sold in London 10 July.

The same day also sees the sale of the collection of the late Stanley J. Seeger, meaning works from these two great collectors, now sadly both deceased. They could not have been more different – Mr. Seeger was almost a recluse to those of us in the book world, only daring to reveal himself personally right at the end of his life; Stanley Eker, on the other hand, rang me more times and engaged me in more conversations than anyone I have ever known. We met frequently for coffee, tea, lunch, even the odd whisky, to discuss the value of the life and work of Beckett, but even more, the value of the Murphy manuscript itself.

The complete autograph draft manuscript of Samuel Beckett’s novel “Murphy” will be sold in London 10 July.

These two individuals and their collections have formed the over-arching narratives of my professional life in this rather extraordinary collecting world we inhabit. On a more personal note, I have recently recovered following nine months recuperating from a serious illness. As I have staged my own return to work, I could not have encountered two more meaningful projects to work on.

Tags:Auctions, Books & Manuscripts, London