Important Modern Literature from the Library of an American Filmmaker

Important Modern Literature from the Library of an American Filmmaker

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 2. Baldwin, James | Giovanni's Room, inscribed to William Cole.

Baldwin, James | Giovanni's Room, inscribed to William Cole

Lot Closed

December 8, 05:03 PM GMT


6,000 - 8,000 USD

Lot Details


Baldwin, James

Giovanni's Room. New York: The Dial Press, 1956

8vo. Publisher's black cloth-backed boards, spine lettered in silver; light wear to head and tail of spine. Pictorial dust jacket; spine panel very lightly faded, a touch of wear to extremities. Housed in a green slipcase with folding cloth chemise.

First edition, advance review copy, with review slip laid in. Presentation copy, inscribed to Knopf's publicity director, William Cole, on the front free endpaper: "For Bill – With much affection. And God bless you for your confidence. Your friend. Jimmy." Cole has also written a lengthy note, dated December 1993, on the front pastedown: "In 1953, at Knopf, I was the first to read & recommend publication of Go Tell It On the Mountain. Jimmy became a close friend, & remained so until his death. A great man & a great companion! William Cole."

Baldwin's groundbreaking second novel, Giovanni's Room, explored homosexual themes with a nuance and frankness that proved controversial in the context of the social mores of the 1950s. The preceding lot includes a letter in which Baldwin discusses his frustration over a request to "tone down" the book at length: "'Toning down' the book will mean, I'm afraid, no book — and I'm certainly not going to murder my own child." Knopf had handled the publication of his first novel, in no small part thanks to William Cole's keen literary sense, but they shied away from Giovanni's Room. Cole and Baldwin's relationship survived this break, giving way to a lifelong friendship.


William Cole (presentation inscription) — Roger Rechler (Christie's New York, 11 October 2002, lot 15)