Every so often, an auction comes along that stands out from the rest, that is moving, inspiring, and captures the imagination.
The press release sitting in my mailbox that most recently had this effect was Sotheby’s upcoming auction, ‘First Editions, Second Thoughts’ in London, scheduled for May 21.
It is a fantastic idea – to return authors and illustrators to first editions of their contemporary classics, and have them annotate and scribble and doodle all over them.
To name a few of the highlights, authors, playwrights and poets such as Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, Tom Stoppard, Seamus Heaney, Ian McEwan, Yann Martel, Philip Pullman and others have taken up their pens against their most celebrated works.
Some authors annotate copiously, correcting their writing, criticising their choices. Some speculate as to their own intentions at the time of writing. Others clarify what has been misinterpreted.
The famed illustrators of novels also feature: Quentin Blake returns to Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and Ralph Steadman to Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
What stunning pieces of memorabilia, the ultimate first edition. And what a revelation in the study and understanding of each work. If made public, these notations could change the way these books are perceived forever.
Even better, the proceeds of the auction are going to charity English PEN, which aims to promote the freedom to write and read in the UK and around the world.