Michael Lerner's book collection sale sees Ginsberg poem reach $74,500

The book collection of actor Michael Lerner sold at Bonhams on April 16, 2012, with Ginsberg, Hemingway and Swift among a list of well-known authors.

The acting stalwart has been gracing television screens since the late 1960s and has appeared in several blockbuster films. Most notably he starred as Jack Lipnick in 1991's Barton Fink, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.


Ginsberg Michael Lerner Howl
Ginsberg's Howl for Carl Solomon

His household name was matched by a list of renowned authors in the sale of his admirable collection. The top lot of the auction was Howl for Carl Solomon by Allen Ginsberg, which was sold for $74,500 against an estimate of $40,000-60,000.

Published in 1956, the work defined the beat generation and caused Ginsberg to face an obscenity trial over the contents of the epic poem. It has become a beloved poem that symbolises the rebellious American youth movement of the 1950s, along with Jack Kerouac's On the Road.

This edition of the work is one of 25 copies that were prepared for presentation to friends of the poet, featuring dedications to Kerouac, William Burroughs and Neil Cassady.

The typed manuscript comes with excellent provenance; it was gifted to fellow poet Alan Ansen and features a handwritten note from Ginsberg, reading: "To be published July 30, 1956—City Lights Bookstore Pocket Poets series Broadway & Columbus Ave. S.F. Cal. U.S.A With introduction by W.C. Williams."

The auction also saw the sale of a handwritten and autographed note from Jonathan Swift. In the letter, the Gulliver's Travels author writes to his "very good and old friend" John Barber, who was a government printer and former lord mayor of London. It sold for $56,250, with a commendable increase of 125% on estimate.

A first limited edition of Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time made $47,500 at the New York auction. The copy is noted for its inscription by Hemingway to journalist Kate Buss, who he hoped would review his first collection of short stories.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has this copy of Orlando, signed by Virginia Woolf for 20th century book collectors. We also have a fantastic extract from William Golding's Lord of the Flies signed by the author.

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