Modern First Editions At Bloomsbury Auctions

Bloomsbury Auctions Offers ‘One of the most important private collections to come onto the market in the last ten years.’

‘Most landmark titles of 20th century English and American literature are represented in Bloomsbury Auctions’ sale of Modern First Editions from The Collection of Clive Hirschhorn,’ said Rupert Powell, Bloomsbury’s Deputy Chairman. ‘This is one of the most important private collections of Modern First Editions to come onto the market in London in the last ten years. A particularly remarkable aspect is the near perfect condition of the original dust-jackets, and this will appeal to all true collectors of Modern Firsts.’ The sale will be held at Bloomsbury Auctions on Thursday 25th October (Bloomsbury House, 24 Maddox Street, London W1S 1PP).

Clive Hirschhorn, the well known biographer, film and theatre critic of The Daily Mail and The Sunday Express, has been collecting for nearly thirty years; a large part of the almost 500 books offered for sale, will be attractive not only to general Modern Firsts collectors but also to film buffs; his special interest in cinema has meant there is a particular emphasis on books which were later made into films. The Clive Hirschhorn Collection encapsulates all the major authors of the 20th century from Faulkner, Hemingway and Virginia Woolf to Agatha Christie, Norman Mailer and Christopher Isherwood embracing iconic titles from To Kill a Mocking Bird, Gone with the Wind, Animal Farm and Catcher in the Rye to Brave New World, The Maltese Falcon, Lord of the Flies and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

One of the many highlights of the sale is an excellent example of The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald; the author obviously held his book in the highest esteem as he wrote, ‘I think my novel is the best American novel ever written.’ The dust-jacket designed by Francis Cugat particularly appealed to the author and it played an important part in the composition of the novel itself, as Fitzgerald wrote to his publisher saying, ‘For Christ’s sake don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me. I’ve written it into the book.’ This is particularly evident in his description of Daisy Buchanan as the ‘girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs.’ Many will regard this first edition, first issue of The Great Gatsby as the ‘holy grail’ of any serious collection of Modern Firsts and it carries an estimate of £50,000-75,000.

Bloomsbury Auctions is very much the home of Ian Fleming books, several world records have been made at the Bloomsbury salerooms over the years. Amongst the thirteen Fleming books in the sale is an exceptional copy of his first book, Casino Royale published in 1953 in which he introduced James Bond to the world. This first issue dust-jacket is without The Times review and is expected to fetch £10,000-15,000. Graham Greene is another cornerstone of modern literature and the Hirschhorn collection boasts twenty eight books by him. ‘Brighton one of the best [books] I ever wrote’ said Greene in his autobiography, Ways of Escape. Generally regarded as his most famous work, this excellent copy has the very scarce dust-jacket and is estimated £40,000-60,000. An interesting association copy first edition is Bram Stoker’s Dracula of 1897 with Graham Greene’s ink ownership inscription and this has an estimate of £6,000-8,000.

Many regard A Handful of Dust as Evelyn Waugh’s greatest novel and the Hirschhorn first edition has a terrific presentation inscription, ‘Do read this if you have time. I think it is better than the others.’ It charts the marriage breakdown of Tony and Brenda Last and was written when Waugh’s own marriage was failing, so it was deeply personal; it is expected to fetch £7,000-10,000. Bloomsbury knows of no other inscribed copy of Waugh’s Vile Bodies, and this collection not only boasts a first edition, first issue with the very hard to find dust-jacket, but the author has also inscribed the end paper with a famous phrase from the Book of Common Prayer: ‘For this body which you call vile, my Lord Jesus Christ was not ashamed to die.’ This carries an estimate of £7,000-10,000.

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11 October 2012