8 Remarkable Books – and Covers – from The Maurice Neville Collection

Launch Slideshow

Some books can be judged by their covers – including the examples in this noteworthy group from The Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III), whose fascinating and rare content matches their stunning exteriors. Click ahead for a closer look at eight can't-miss highlights from the sale and vignettes inspired by these remarkable editions.

The Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III)
24 April | New York


8 Remarkable Books – and Covers – from The Maurice Neville Collection

  • Photographer: Jon Tasker; Set Design: Devin Rutz
    Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. The Modern Library, 1934. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    Set in the decadent Roaring Twenties, The Great Gatsby tells the story of enigmatic Jay Gatsby and his doomed love for Daisy Buchanan. This copy of the classic American novel is inscribed by Fitzgerald to his close Hollywood friends, Laura and SJ Perelman: "For Laura, and for Syd Perelman, who gave me a sense of my existence as a writer in a doubtful time. F. Scott Fitzgerald California 1940." Living in Hollywood but finding no great success as a screenwriter and with his novels out of print, Fitzgerald would certainly need the encouragement of fellow writers like Perelman during this "doubtful time." (That the jacket on the present copy carries a remainder stamp on top of the author's name seems particularly apt.)

  • Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Scribner's, 1940. Estimate $18,000–25,000.
    Hemingway collected material for For Whom the Bell Tolls while covering the Spanish Civil War, using his experiences on the front as a war correspondent as the background for the story of a young American that enlists in the International Brigades. Hemingway's mistress Martha Gellhorn was also in Spain as a reporter for Collier's Magazine and it was there that the relationship between the two became more serious. They entertained as a couple from Hemingway's suite at the Hotel Florida, the war providing the perfect proving ground for Hemingway to feel that he had found his equal in thrill seeking. This first edition is inscribed to "Herbert" – likely Herb Matthews, correspondent for the New York Times and frequent guest of the couple at the Hotel Florida, where Hemingway always managed to set a fine table and entertain with the latest war stories, maps, and of course, whiskey. Gellhorn and Hemingway married in 1940. It was his third marriage and a contentious one that lasted only four years. Gellhorn was a extraordinarily accomplished war correspondent in her own right and her career often caused friction with Hemingway, who wanted her to stay at home and away from covering the front during World War II. We can trace only one other book jointly presented by the two sold at auction in the last 30 years.

  • Hammett, Dashiell. Red Harvest. New York: Knopf, 1929. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    Red Harvest, the first real “hard-boiled” detective novel, was published on 1 February 1929. By the time Red Harvest was published Hammett was already well into writing his third novel: The Maltese Falcon – the huge success of which established his reputation. This first edition of Red Harvest is inscribed to MGM Story Editor Sam Marx, who bought the film rights to another of Hammett's novels The Thin Man and engaged him on the studio's writing staff.

  • Biggers, Earl Derr. The House Without a Key. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1925. Estimate $7,000–10,000.
    Chang Apana was a longtime Hawaiian detective of Chinese descent, who worked Honolulu's Chinatown and among the islands' poorest immigrant workers. During his 24-year-long career, his detective exploits became legendary, not least because he was the only Chinese on the police force. He cleared opium dens with only his bullwhip, was a master of disguise, and solved crimes from robbery to murder quickly and often unconventionally. Biggers first read about Chang in newspapers and based what he thought would be a minor character on the detective in 1924. The two did not meet until 1928, but Biggers eventually featured the Chan character in some half dozen novels and in screen adaptations that became some of the most popular crime films of the 1930s. This copy of The House Without a Key is inscribed by Biggers to Apana himself.

  • [Lawrence, T. E.] Lowell Thomas. With Lawrence in Arabia. New York: The Century Co, 1924. Estimate $800–1,200.
    The key book in the creation of the Lawrence myth, a figure that continues to capture the public imagination even today. It is inscribed by Lowell in the year of publication, "Sep 22, 1924 | Dear Mr. Wickes | I am herewith sending my caravan | to your door. But I warn you to have a | well filled canteen at your elbow when | you start into the desert with me because | it's a long long trek to Oasis 'Page 408.' | Very cordially yours | Lowell Thomas."

  • Jones, Robert Tyre ("Bobby"). Golf Is My Game. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1960. Estimate $4,000–6,000.
    A successful amateur golfer and influential figure in the history of the sport, Jones co-founded the Masters Tournament and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club. This presentation copy of his book Golf Is My Game is inscribed to Ben Hogan, one of the greatest professional golfers of all time. Between them, Jones and Hogan won 22 majors, including Jones's celebrated Grand Slam in 1930.

  • Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950. Estimate $8,000–10,000.
    The Simple Art of Murder collects for the first time in hardcover Chandler’s famous essay of the same title, in which he argues the virtues of the realistic hard-boiled detective novel, and eight stories. This edition is inscribed to his favourite secretary Juanita Messick, who Chandler's biographer Tom Hiney describes as "a middle-aged mother who seemed to understand Chandler’s difficult combination of humour, dogmatism, laziness, and depression.”

  • Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner's, 1929. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    A moving love story set during World War I, A Farewell to Arms has long been considered one of Hemingway's seminal works. An exceedingly fine copy, almost as new, this is of the only limited signed edition of any Hemingway book.


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