Herman Melville's Moby Dick first edition headlines literature sale

A rare first edition copy of Herman Melville's Moby Dick is the highlight of Swann Auction Galleries' 19th and 20th Century Literature sale on November 21, featuring an estimate of $35,000-50,000.

Melville Moby Dick first
The book is one of around 60 copies that survived a fire in 1853

Melville's masterpiece was not initially recognised as such, and was almost universally panned by critics.

In 1853 a fire at Harpers - the book's publisher - destroyed all but around 60 copies, making the edition extremely rare. This example is one of only two known that feature white endpapers, further enhancing its desirability.

A signed first edition of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is also featured with an estimate of $18,000-25,000. It is inscribed: "For Jules and Joyce and also Joan with love John Steinbeck".

Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath was first published in 1939

It features the rare flying pig illustration that Steinbeck reserved for close friends. Jules Buck was a movie producer with whom Steinbeck worked on a screenplay that became Eli Kazan's Viva Zapata.

The dust jacket is in excellent condition with virtually no rubbing or wear, and features the original price of $2.75.

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is offered as a first edition, with the original cloth-backed patterned boards and dust jacket. A masterpiece of modernism, the book relates the story of the Compson family - formerly wealthy southern aristocrats who have fallen on hard times.

The edition has been expertly repaired on areas of the spine, panel and folds and features a small split to the lower front hinge. It is expected to bring $15,000-20,000.

You can view our selection of books and manuscripts here.

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