Early state of chassis: €280,000 for ‘Juno and the Paycock’ draft

Handwritten Seán O’Casey manuscript differs significantly from published version

 Sean O’Casey manuscript of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ valued at €380,000 ahead of New York auction. Image : Michael Parsons

Sean O’Casey manuscript of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ valued at €380,000 ahead of New York auction. Image : Michael Parsons

 

A handwritten draft of Seán O’Casey’s play Juno and the Paycock has been valued at up to $300,000 (€280,000) ahead of an auction in New York on Friday.

The draft contains O’Casey’s early concept of the play and differs significantly from the published version.

The 62-page manuscript – written in a child’s school exercise book – dates from 1923 and will go under the hammer in a rare books auction at Sotheby’s in Manhattan.

The schoolbook, labelled in red ink with the title “Juno and the Peacock”, contains “first drafts of Acts I and II, fragments of Act III, a synopsis of the play, numerous listings of characters, miscellaneous notes and comments, and two pencil sketches of Captain Boyle’s head in profile, in ink with a few pencil notations” according to Sotheby’s catalogue.

The manuscript was owned by the late Robert S Pirie, an American lawyer and one of the world’s leading book collectors, who died in January 2015.

Sotheby’s described Juno and the Paycock as “a cornerstone of Irish drama and of twentieth-century world literature”.

The manuscript will be sold with a later, typescript version of the play and Sotheby’s believe the combination illustrates “the evolution of the play and the genius of the playwright in revising and expanding his original fragments of inspiration”.