Catalogue 85: From The Author

An author’s presentation copy carries a certain magic. These are not the edition deluxe, produced for purely commercial ends, nor copies where the author’s signature has been solicited under duress. These books have not only been handled by their author, but have also been the subject of their consideration, in choosing the recipient and often in the wording used in the inscription. 

In this catalogue we see Rupert Brooke give his first book of poems to fellow poet Wilfred Gibson, shortly before going off to WWI and his death. In a peculiar parallel, Sylvia Plath gives her only book published in her lifetime to Ted Hughes’s aunt as a thank you gift for her hospitality. Affection presents itself in different forms: Raymond Chandler’s last book is concisely inscribed to Ian Fleming after (one hopes) a suitably bacchanalian lunch, whereas the copy of Robert Graves’s first book he gave to his sister has extensive annotations to each poem. Kingsley Amis, in giving an early work to Brian Aldiss and Anthony Powell doing the same for Edith Sitwell, were both young authors overtly expressing gratitude to the senior author for favourable reviews. Evelyn Waugh inscribes two books to Graham Greene and one to Nancy Mitford. Mitford inscribes a book to an Chilean playboy and Greene’s own copy of The Basement Room was given to nobody, but used it for marking up in preparation for the screenplay of The Fallen Idol. Ian Fleming’s heavily marked up typescript of Diamonds Are Forever and A.A.Milne’s letter to E.H.Shepard both give a clear insight into their respective creative processes.

The list goes on, each one a unique point of intersection of the author’s life and their work. Each a small but intensely relevant piece of literary history, the handling of which confers a visceral and quite tangible thrill.

To view the catalogue online, click here, or to order a hard copy, click here. 

You can read a review of the catalogue in the June 4th edition of the Times Literary Supplement, or online here.

From The Author: Jonkers Rare Books

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