Bonhams has announced that it will offer the last handwritten John Keats poem in private hands as part of the Roy Davids Collection III: Poetry, Political Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets, which is to be held across two auctions on April 10 and May 8 in London.
The collection is being described by the auction house as "the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction, with Davids himself adding: "It would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated."
The Keats manuscript is estimated at £40,000-45,000 ($64,000-72,000) and, according to Bonhams, is "the only poetical manuscript by Keats now ever likely to be available to collectors."
The original 10-page manuscript showed the poet's drafting of 1816's I Stood Tip-Toe upon a Little Hill, which he is one of Keats' best-loved early works. It was originally owned by Keats' close friend Charles Cowden Clarke, who separated it into 13 pieces following Keats' death and presented them to friends and admirers as mementos.
The piece at auction displays 33 lines, which have been scribbled on both sides, and provide an excellent insight into Keats' creative processes. Four of the remaining 12 pieces have never been found, six are in major international institutions and two were last seen in 1929, their whereabouts currently unknown.
Only one other handwritten poem from Keats has appeared at auction in recent times - a copy of To Hope that sold in 2001 for $149,000.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has an extraordinary collection of literary collectibles for sale, including handwritten and signed items from the likes of Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy and Mark Twain.