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The 1878 first issue copy of Henry James’ Daisy Miller, one of the scarcest of all of the author’s first editions. It sold for £7500 at Sotheby’s. Only one copy has made more: that sold for $16,000 (then £9525) in 1990 as part of the Bradley Martin library at Sotheby’s New York.

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Both were included in a group of books he had given to the French novelist and critic, Paul Bourget.

He was a great admirer and a man with whom James had formed a close relationship, and even acted as a literary adviser before the two men eventually fell out over Bourget’s increasingly reactionary, aristocratic and monarchical views.

Their correspondence, however, remained intact among James’ papers.

Bid to a record-breaking £22,000 in this December 11-12 auction was a fine 1886 first in dark blue-green cloth gilt of The Bostonians with one of Bourget’s visiting cards loosely inserted, while an 1898 first of a volume containing The Two Magics, The Turn of the Screw, [and] Covering End sold at another record-shattering sum of £20,000.

Inscribed to Madame Bourget in the month of publication, the latter Heinemann volume marked the first book appearance of James’ famous tale of the apparent haunting of a governess’ young charges by a pair of ghostly servants, a tale supposedly suggested to him by EW Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rare first issue

The James lots also included, at £7500, a rare first issue copy of Daisy Miller, published by Harper Bros in 1878 after serialisation earlier that year in The Cornhill Magazine, and, it seems, in two other unauthorised appearances.

Tipped in at the beginning was a leaf bearing the author’s signature.

One of Harper’s ‘Half-Hour’ series of books, it retained the original pale buff wrappers but was preserved in a special presentation case to which were attached the bookplates of two early owners.