Auden's Stop the Clocks manuscript may see $13,000 at Bonhams

Bonhams has announced that it will offer WH Auden's manuscript for his famous poem Stop All the Clocks in its sale of the Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets on April 10 in London.

W H Auden Stop All the Clocks manuscript
Stop All the Clocks was written to be sung by soprano Hedli Anderson, and was only later included in a collection of poems

The tear-jerking manuscript is expected to sell for £6,000-8,000 ($9,634-12,845). Also featuring in the sale is the last John Keats manuscript in private hands, which will sell with a £40,000-45,000 estimate ($64,000-72,000) as the highlight of the auction.

Roy Davids' collection has been described by Bonhams as "the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction," with Davids himself commenting: "It would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated."

Stop All the Clocks was originally written in 1936 as a burlesque dirge in Auden's poetic drama, The Ascent of F6, which the poet co-wrote with his good friend Christopher Isherwood. Today, it is best-known as the poem read by John Hannah's character at the funeral of his lover in the 1994 hit film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Originally comprising five stanzas, the poem was later shortened to four for its 1940 publication under the title Funeral Blues, which was presented in Auden's book Another Time. The manuscript at auction "almost certainly" dates to 1937 and is said to be identical to the published version.

It was sent by Auden to a Miss Boyd, and is thought to have been intended as an addition to an anthology of poetry intended to be used in schools. It will be accompanied in the sale by a letter in which Auden describes his troubles when writing poems suitable for children.

Paul Fraser Collectibles offers an array of literary collectibles for sale, including Victorian novelist and poet Thomas Hardy's autograph and a rather stern and enlivened autographed note from Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

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