Willliam Butler Yeats was the first Irish writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923 - though his most famous works such as The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929) came still later.
However, all of this was late in Yeats' career, when he was in his fifties and sixties. Yeats's first published work was Mosada (an epic poem) back in 1886, when the poet had just entered his twenties. First edition copies of this work are naturally very rare and likely to be valuable.
One of these greatly coveted copies of the work came up for auction at Bloomsbury and Dreweatts sale of Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts on Wednesday (April 21) in New York. But it was not just any copy.
Yeats, so far as anyone seems to know, never kept a copy of Mosada for himself - at least not a first edition. This copy was as close to him as any, having been held by his family, having been owned by two of his cousins in succession.
The book comes with a six page autograph letter by Grace Yeats (owner until 2000) dated 5 October 1925, predicting that the work would be an investment as copies of it were already known to be scarce during the author's lifetime ("Tell Dad to hold on tight to his Mosada").
The work, in its original printed wrappers, housed in a custom red morocco clamshell case, has lost a little of its inner corners. Despite this, and minor soiling, the piece remains attractive and sold at an on-estimate price of $73,200.
Collectors focusing on Irish writers may be interested to know that a signed photo of Yeats's contemporary, Oscar Wilde, is currently available.
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