PG Wodehouse’s ‘Sam the Sudden’, sold by Dominic Winter at £3000.

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Twentieth century

Sent to auction by the family of ‘Jack’ Haines, a Gloucester solicitor and poet (1875-1966), one group of lots offered in a Bonhams (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) sale of June 20 was headed ‘Robert Frost, Edward Thomas and the Dymock Poets’.

The latter was a term coined by Haines to refer to the circle who gathered around Frost and Thomas in a Gloucestershire village – among them Rupert Brooke, Lascelles Abercrombie, John Drinkwater and Wilfrid Gibson.

The high spot of this property, sold at £42,000, was a letter of January 1923 from Frost to Haines that contains a newly discovered final draft and earliest-known manuscript copy of the complete version of Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

Those four verses, which end with the repeated line “And miles to go before I sleep”, are widely regarded as Frost’s greatest poem, said Bonhams.

Illustrated in an ATG No 2347 preview, a copy of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn of 1936 was, at £6000, one of a number of record sales made by Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) in a June 20-21 sale.

Among PG Wodehouse firsts on offer, Sam the Sudden of 1925 and Money for Nothing of 1928 were two such results, at £3000 and £1850 respectively.

Both were catalogued as scarce in jackets, as were copies of Ukridge of 1924 that made £1500 and Very Good Jeeves! of 1930, which reached £1700. The jacket of the earlier book, like that on Sam the Sudden, had been professionally restored. The jacket of the Jeeves book, while faded and chipped on the spine, was a first issue example.

Records were also set in this South Cerney sale for two Eric Ambler firsts. A copy of the writer’s second novel, Uncommon Danger of 1937, made £2700, while Journey into Fear of 1940 realised £1600.


‘Uncommon Danger’ by Eric Ambler, sold by Dominic Winter at £2700.

Imre: A Memorandum, is a 1908 work that has been described as “…the first novel by an American with an explicitly gay theme and a sympathetic attitude towards its gay characters”. Sold for £1500 to an institutional buyer by Cheffins (22.5% buyer’s premium) on July 4 was a copy in poor condition, the sewing weak and pages coming loose from the grey wrappers.

It was, however, inscribed to the title page “With the regards of X.M.”.

Xavier Mayne was a pseudonym of Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson, the son of a Presbyterian minister who studied law in the US before turning to writing and moving to live in Europe.

Just 166 copies of Imre were published in Naples by the English Book-Press, according to a tipped-in slip, and a printed note on an early leaf reads “Copies of this book, as also of ‘The Intersexes’ [a work by the same author that has been described as a defence of homosexuality from a scientific, legal, historical, and personal perspective] can now be obtained only by addressing the following booksellers…”

The name of a US dealer has been erased in red pencil, and if any others followed, they are now obscured by a typed note of 1923 from George & Cie of Geneva, warning that “A very limited number only, of copies originally not numerous, and of a restricted sale, can at present be obtained.”

Nineteenth century

Sold for $30,000 (£23,075) in a June 18-28 sale held by Sotheby’s New York (25/20/12.9% buyer’s premium) was a newly discovered volume that brings to 29 the number of books from John Keats’ library now recorded.

A 1761 copy of Samuel Butler’s Hudibras that he signed and inscribed to his brother George in 1813, it is one of only six books known to have been exchanged by the brothers and was found in the Lexington, Kentucky, home of George’s widow.

Printed in 1843 on his Italian grandfather, Gaetano Polidori’s press for private circulation only, a copy of Sir Hugh the Heron… by ‘Gabriel Rossetti, Junior’, as he is named on the title-page, made £2900 in the Dominic Winter June 20-21 sale.

Running to 20pp in its near contemporary, unlettered mauve wrappers, it is one of only a handful of surviving copies, the young Dante Gabriel having later given his brother a considerable stock of copies to destroy.

“ The 1908 work has been described as ‘the first novel by an Amercian with an explicitly gay theme

In a July 9-10 sale at Sotheby’s (25/20/12.9% buyer’s premium), two Wilkie Collins firsts were both offered as part of the Mary Roxburghe Trust.

Basil of 1852, the three volumes in bright blue cloth gilt and bearing the bookplate of Mary’s father Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe, sold at £2800. After Dark of 1856, containing Collins’ first published collection of short stories, made £3000.

(The background to sales of books from the library at West Horsley Place in Surrey, a property bequeathed by Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, to her nephew, Bamber Gascoigne, that is currently under restoration, was noted in ATG No 2345.)

Last offered at Christie’s New York in 1978, when it made $900, one of 100 copies on Japanese vellum of Lord Alfred Douglas’ translation of Oscar Wilde’s Salome made £8000.

In a later but matching full vellum gilt binding by Rivière over the original one, it incorporates among the 10 full-page illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley the original, suppressed ‘Enter Herodias’ plate, along with a rejected version of the ‘Toilette of Salome’.

Yet another West Horsley lot on offer was a copy of Thomas Hardy’s Life’s Little Ironies of 1894, inscribed to Lord Houghton. It made £2800.

Signed by HG Wells on the half title, an exceptionally well-preserved 1897, English first of The Invisible Man that made £8000 came from a different property, however.

The only copy to have made more was that in the Neville library, which sold for $21,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2004. That one, a first US edition of the same year, contained a presentation inscription and two crude sketches by Wells of a man dining on gruel in front of a fire.