It was not, however, a work of which he was proud – in fact it was one that he actively tried to disown and suppress during his lifetime.
Hawthorne had written it while still a student at Bowdoin College and it was printed soon after his graduation, but both his sister and his publisher recall that he then instructed them not to associate him with the work in any way.
It seems though that he should not have worried too much. According to his bibliographer in 1978, the book’s scarcity results mainly from the destruction in a warehouse fire of Marsh & Capen’s inventory.
Over the years I have noticed a great many reports of ‘warehouse fires’ in the context of explaining why a book became so rare – I wonder if there is a scholarly paper on the subject waiting to be written?
In the publisher’s muslin backed boards, but lacking the paper label from the now repaired spine and showing some dampstaining, this rare example of Poe’s first book was last seen at auction at Christie’s in 1989, when it made $7000.
The Bonhams sale took place on December 5.