Books & Manuscripts Selley LG

Peter Selley

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  • Joined Sotheby’s in 1993
  • Oversees major English Literature and History sales at Sotheby's London
  • Responsible for the ongoing major series of sales from the Library of an English Bibliophile (2010--)
  • Arranged private sale of James Joyce/Paul Leon papers to National Library of Ireland in 2002

Peter Selley joined Sotheby's in 1993. He is a specialist in English Literature and History and is Head of this department at Sotheby's London.

Mr Selley has overseen all of Sotheby's London's recent major English Literature sales both at auction and by private treaty. He has managed many important special events, including Lewis Carroll's Alice (2001), the Library of Frederick B. Adams, Jr (2001), The Stanislaus Joyce Collection (2004), The George Cosmatos Library (2005), The Modern Movement: The Annette Campbell-White Collection (2007) and the ongoing series of sales from the Library of an English Bibliophile (2010 -- ). He has also been responsible for numerous special consignments, such as John Lennon's hand-written lyrics for the Beatles' song A Day in the Life, subsequently sold in New York in June 2010 for $1 million.

Mr Selley has played a key role in the private sale of numerous modern archives, including the Siegfried Sassoon archive (sold to Cambridge University Library for £1.25 million in 2010), and the newly discovered James Joyce/Paul Leon papers (sold to the National Library of Ireland in 2002 for £8 million, a world record for a modern literary archive). Among the lots he has sold as an auctioneer have been the lost autograph manuscript of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge in B Flat Major (£1.1 million, December 2005), the manuscript of J.K. Rowling's Beedle the Bard (£1.95 million, December 2008) and Dr Williams's copy of the Shakespeare First Folio (£2.5 million, July 2006).