From Bond to Wilde: Highlights from the English Bibliophile

Launch Slideshow

The seventh sale in the successful series ‘From the Library of an English Bibliophile’ will be held in London on 7 November and includes a number of important works from English, American and Continental literature (together with a number of books from other collecting areas). The English Bibliophile first started his collection over five decades ago and Sotheby’s has offered some highly significant, desirable and rare books from this library since October 2010. Click ahead to see eight highlights

The Library of an English Bibliophile Part VII

From Bond to Wilde: Highlights from the English Bibliophile

  • Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell First Edition, First Issue, 1846
    Estimate: £20,000-30,000
    The very rare first issue of the Brontes’ first published work, with the binding in its earliest state, described by Wise in his bibliography of the sisters as “one of the most elusive objects of the collector’s search”. 

  • Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Second (First Published) Edition
    Edition, 1866
    Estimate: £30,000-50,000
    A fine copy, including the inverted 'S' in the final line of the Contents listing. This is thought to be a feature of the earliest state of this edition.

  • Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun, First Edition, First Impression, First Issue
    Estimate: £4,000-6,000
    One of fifteen First Edition Ian Flemings in this sale. Pictured here is the rare first issue state with the golden gun on the upper cover. "According to the publisher's book production files, it is apparent that the cost of blocking each copy with the required amount of Nuvap [gilding]... was prohibitive... The decision to cease stamping a golden gun was purely economical" (Gilbert). Only 940 copies were produced with this binding. 

  • Ernest Hemingway, In our time, First Edition, no. 69 of 170 copies, 1924
    Estimate: £20,000-30,000
    "In the dry little vignettes of in our time [Hemingway] almost invented a form of his own... and below its cool objective manner really constitutes a harrowing record of barbarities: you have not only political executions, but criminal hangings, bullfights, assassinations by the police, and all the cruel and enormities of the war... I am inclined to think that this little book has more artistic dignity than any other book that has been written by an American about the period of the war..." (Edmund Wilson, review in The Dial, October 1924).

  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, First Edition, 1916
    Estimate: £25,000-30,000
    The true First Edition of Joyce’s autobiographical novel. The First English Edition was followed on 12 February 1917 (although, as noted by Slocum and Cahoon, the English edition used "American sheets because English printers would not accept the responsibility of printing it").  As noted by Connolly, the book is "a landmark in sensibility, the prose moved forward in complexity from the child's sensations at the beginning to the adolescent subtleties at the end..."

  • T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, The Subscriber’s Edition, 1926
    Estimate: £35,000-50,000
    A very rare presentation copy of the author’s epic masterpiece. The copy is inscribed to Lawrence’s lawyer warning him of potential legal problems following publication. 

  • Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, First Edition, Second Issue, Presentation Copy, 1902
    Estimate: £20,000-30,000
    The inscription connects different sides of Beatrix Potter: the author and illustrator was also an amateur mycologist and scientific artist. The botanist J. Squire assisted Potter in her research for her paper 'On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae' (presented to the Linnean Society) on 1 April 1897.

  • Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, First Edition, Presentation Copy, 1899
    Estimate: £60,000-80,000
    Given to actress Frances Forbes-Robertson as a wedding present. ("To Frankie | on her happy marriage: | from her | old friend and | comrade, | The author. | June '99").

    At the time of the wedding, Wilde was living a life of poverty as an exile in Paris. In a letter which originally accompanied the gift, Wilde wrote:  "So, dear Frankie, you are married, and your husband is a 'king of men'! That is as it should be: those who wed the daughters of the gods are kings, or become so. I have nothing to offer you but one of my books, that absurd comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, but I send it to you, in the hopes it may live on one of your bookshelves and be allowed to look at you from time to time. Its dress is pretty: it wears Japanese vellum, and belongs to a limited family of nine: it is not on speaking terms with the popular edition: it refuses to recognise the poor relations whose value is only seven and sixpence." (The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde (2000), p.1144).


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