They formed part of the estate of the late writer and publisher, Jon Wynne Tyson, founder of the Centaur Press.
Sold at a record £3600 via thesaleroom.com at the auction on July 30 was a 1956 first of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, inscribed “To Jon, with love from Dodie…”, while bid online to that same sum, again a record, was a lot presenting a similarly inscribed copy of the 1948, first US edition of I Capture the Castle.
The latter was lotted with a second copy of that first edition inscribed for Esmé Wynne Tyson, Jon’s mother.
Another of Esmé’s books was an inscribed 1967 first of Dodie Smith’s The Starlight Barking that realised £1350 – once again a record sum.
Esmé had initially pursued a career as an actress and became a close friend, confidante, and collaborator with Noël Coward, but in 1920 she gave up the stage.
Thereafter she produced a series of novels but also developed a growing interest in religious and moral matters that led her into non-fiction and journalism, sometimes in partnership with the writer JD Beresford, with whom she developed a close relationship.
A two-shelf lot of some 60 or so books by or associated with Beresford, that sold for £3000 was headed by a copy of his 1921 novel Revolution…, inscribed “to Dorothy” but bearing pencil annotations by Esmé.
Also bid to £3000 was a presentation first of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, inscribed in 1945 by Beresford for Esmé and possiby a review copy.
Earlier high spots in the Chichester sale included an 1838 first of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s The Seraphim and other Poems… that bore the half-title inscription “with the kindest remembrances, E.B.B”. It sold at £750.
The property also included a good collection of literary correspondence relating to both Esmé and Jon’s literary circles.