Billed as a copy inscribed by the man who stole its author’s first wife at a party given by Anthony Powell and Constance Lambert, the top lot in a July 27 sale held by Stride & Son (18% buyer’s premium) was one of 50 copies of the 1926 first edition of Evelyn Waugh’s first book, P.R.B: Essay on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Bid to £6000, three times the top estimate, in Chichester, it was a copy warmly inscribed (possibly in 1952) by the Northern Irish-born journalist and novelist Sir John Heygate (1905-76) to Henry Williamson.
The latter’s most famous work, Tarka the Otter, had been published in 1928, and Heygate’s inscription apologises for not having a book left of his own to give to his old friend, but hopes he “…will accept this, what I believe to be Evelyn Waugh’s first printed book”.
Divorce proceedings between Evelyn Waugh (‘He-Evelyn’) and the first Mrs Waugh, Evelyn Gardner (‘She-Evelyn’), began in 1929. Heygate was cited. He married Gardner a year later but they divorced in 1936.
Heygate had been portrayed as John Beaver in Waugh’s A Handful of Dust of 1934 and much later as Sir Piers Tofield in Williamson’s epic, 15-volume Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight series of books.
Boys will be boys
Sold at £1250, the Chichester sale also included something very different: a small-format manuscript children’s book of c.1825, comprising 12 leaves of often humorous manuscript verses accompanied by 11 ink, pencil and wash illustrations that focus principally on the family life of three small boys.
A later provenance note attributes the verses to a Paul Treby and the illustrations to Anne or Blanche Treby. The later calf binding was also said to be the work of a family descendant.