First Editions, Second Thoughts raised a combined total of £439,200 in support of English PEN, the writers charity which campaigns for freedom of expression
Press release: Last night at Sotheby’s, London: First Editions, Second Thoughts, a ground-breaking auction in which 50 of the UK and Commonwealth’s outstanding contemporary writers annotated and in some instances illustrated a first edition copy of one of their best-known works, raised a combined total of £439,200/ $669,341/ €519,574 in support of English PEN, the writers’ charity which campaigns for freedom of expression.
The top lot of the evening was a 1997 first edition of Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone personally annotated by J.K. Rowling, containing revealing commentary and 22 of her own original illustrations. The sale room fell silent as two determined bidders vied for the prized edition. Bidding leapt in increments of up to £25,000 and the hammer finally fell, to a round of applause, on a £150,000 telephone bid – a new record for a printed book by Rowling.
The second-highest price of the auction was achieved for the much-loved children’s classic Matilda by Roald Dahl, with new illustrations by Quentin Blake, which sold for £30,000.
Further highlights of the sale include Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, which sold for £18,000; Julian Barnes’ Metroland, which sold for £14,000; Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, which fetched £11,000; Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist, which brought £17,000; Colm Toibin’s The Heather Blazing, which sold for £15,500; Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall which sold for £16,000; Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes, which fetched £14,500 and Ralph Steadman’s richly illustrated Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson which sold for £14,500.
The sale was attended by a number of authors whose works were featured in the sale, including Helen Fielding, Colm Toibin, Jeanette Winterson, Frederick Forsyth, Ben Okri, Margaret Drabble, Andrea Levy, David Lodge, John Banville, Justin Cartwright and Wendy Cope.
Rick Gekoski, rare book dealer and trustee of English PEN, who curated the collection of annotated first editions for the sale, said: ‘This is a triumphant conclusion to a wonderful project, which has involved the hard work and good will of so many people. I am sure that the buyers of the individual books will be thrilled with their purchases.’