Joyce and Beckett letters among many rarities in London auction

A first edition copy of ‘Bog Poems’ by Seamus Heaney also attracted interest


Samuel Beckett and James Joyce were the main focus of Irish interest in Sotheby’s auction of rare books and manuscripts in London on Tuesday. An unpublished collection of 347 letters and postcards written in French by Beckett between 1947 and ended in 1958 sold for £146,500 (€180,781). A first edition copy of Bog Poems by Seamus Heaney, with illustrations by artist Barrie Cooke and published in 1975 by the Rainbow Press (no.102 of 150 copies numbered and signed by the author) sold for £4,000.

Other intriguing items in the auction included a sheet of pink blotting paper “used to blot the royal signatures on the instrument of abdication” on the morning of December 10th 1936 when King Edward VIII quit the throne to marry Mrs Simpson. The blotting paper, given as a memento to a diplomat and sold by his family, made £10,000.

A first edition copy of the novel Night and Day by Virginia Woolf, published in 1919 made £7,500. A first edition copy of Animal Farm by George Orwell, published in 1949, made £4,000.

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