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Sold at £22,000 to a private buyer, this was the copy that Laurence Olivier bequeathed to Gielgud, and it contains a letter of presentation from Olivier’s widow, Joan Plowright. (Gielgud’s collection of 23 other books by or about the illustrator, Edward Gordon Craig, was one of the smaller of the job lots that were a feature of the library, and sold at £2600).

Sold for £18,000 was a collection of 26 volumes of the works of Shakespeare annotated by Gielgud for theatrical performances, broadcasts or recordings – among them a copy of Henry V from Bradbury, Agnew & Co.’s ‘Handy-Volume Shakespeare’ series, inscribed to record his very first appearance on the professional stage, as an English Herald in a 1921 Old Vic production. As well as the ‘Handy’ volumes, the lot included volumes from Dent’s Temple and New Temple Shakespeare series.

Illustrated botton right is a 1937, first US edition of Rosamund Gilder’s John Gielgud’s Hamlet, inscribed by John to his devoted mother and containing an additional inscription by the writer, which sold for £1600.

In 1962 Gielgud put on his own production of Sheridan’s School for Scandal at the Haymarket in which he played Joseph Surface, and the part of Sir Peter Teazle was taken by Sir Ralph Richardson, who that same year presented bim with a 1778, Dublin first edition of the play that was bound in morocco gilt to record the occasion. It sold for £1800.

As I mentioned earlier in this report, the majority of the Gielgud books formed part of job lots, but other individual highlights included a volume of 28 English Almanacs for the year 1696, contained in a black morocco gilt restoration binding made by Robert Steel for presentation to William III, which sold for £3000, and an 1899 Smithers first of The Importance of Being Earnest in worn original cloth, at £2100. After Hamlet, the part of Jack Worthing in Wilde’s play has generally been considered one of John Gielgud’s best.

Buyer’s premium: 20/15/10 per cent