• <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Macbeth: A Tragedy.</i> London, 1673. FIRST SEPARATE AND FIRST QUARTO EDITION. THE CHARLTON HESTON COPY. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. <i>In Our Time.</i> Paris, 1924. FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> VERNE, JULES. <i>A Journey to the Centre of the Earth.</i> New York & London, 1872. FIRST EDITION, RARE AMERICAN ISSUE, with Scribner & Welford cancel title. $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> PLATO. <i>Timaeus</i> [AND] <i>Critias</i> [from Ficini's 1484 Opera]. A LANDMARK OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. $80,000 to $120,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Dr. Seuss, pen, ink & watercolor, calendar illustration, Thomas D. Murphy Company, 1937. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Sur la Terrasse,</i> gouache & pencil, cover for <i>Vogue,</i> 1930. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Dana Gibson, <i>The Coming Game, Yale vs. Vassar,</i> pen & ink, for <i>Life</i> magazine, 1895. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>H.A. Rey, color pencil, charcoal, watercolor & gouache, for <i>Rafi et les 9 singes,</i> 1939. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ernest H. Shepard, pen & ink, for Kenneth Grahame’s <i>Bertie’s Escapade,</i> 1949. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Schulz, <i>The Biggest Star Measured So Far,</i> ink & wash, original <i>Peanuts</i> cartoon, published 1961. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Saul Steinberg, <i>12 Biographies, A to B,</i> pen & ink with collage, final illustration in his book <i>The Labyrinth,</i> 1960. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Jo Mielziner, <i>A Streetcar Named Desire,</i> watercolor, graphite & gouache, first color study for the award-winning 1947 production. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Nevermore,</i> watercolor & ink, for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1973. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>I Should Worry,</i> watercolor, gouache & graphite, cover for <i>Judge</i> magazine, 1914. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Edward Gorey, <i>Swan Lake, Hunters/Siegfried, Van Rothbart,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, costume designs, 1975. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>Sketch for Madeline,</i> gouache & ink. $6,000 to $9,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2013 Issue

End of a Love Affair: Art from the Collection of Mrs. T. S. Eliot to be Auctioned This Fall

Ts&valeliot

T. S. and Valerie Eliot (courtesy of Christie's).

A major art auction is scheduled for November 20 at Christie's in London, and while we normally don't write about art auctions, this one has a connection to books. The collection arose from the work of one of the most notable of 20th century poets, T. S. Eliot. The collection belonged to his wife, Valerie Fletcher Eliot, who died in November of last year.

 

Huh? His wife just died? Hasn't Eliot been dead forever? The answer is yes, he has. And, if this had been his first wife, she would have been 125. The sly “Old Possum” won the heart of a much younger lady late in his life. Actually, he didn't have to do much winning. His poetry did it for him, and she figuratively, if not literally, threw herself at his feet. Surprisingly enough, this was not a gold digger romance, but one of great love and devotion, the only unfortunate part being it couldn't last for long. And, while the second Mrs. Eliot became quite wealthy as a result, it was only because of an unexpected turn of events several years after he died.

 

T. S. (Tom) Eliot's life was complicated. He was a complex man. In other words, it wasn't all that happy. He married his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, in 1915, a few months after meeting her. They were both 27. He imagined she would fill some void in his life. He apparently had never had much of any relationships with women, so there was one role right there. She also was a vivacious, attractive woman with a large personality. That also filled a need since Eliot was more of a repressed, somewhat dull person. His personality was in his poems, not his persona.

 

Vivienne suffered from all sorts of illnesses, both physical and mental. The physical problems required much care, and “Tom” seems to have been fairly attendant to them through the first decade and a half of their marriage. However, he became increasingly disinterested and distant from her. The growing mental issues, which would result in her being institutionalized the last decade of her life, certainly didn't help. She became too much for him and he wanted separation. She, on the the hand, admired him, and wanted to take care of him, even if she was the one who more needed the care. It was a mess.

 

In 1927, Eliot, who was born a Unitarian, converted to the Anglican Church. This seems a bit odd under the circumstances. Though born in America, Eliot spent most of his adult life in England, and this would have been more suitable to the social circles in which he traveled. Nonetheless, membership in the Anglican Church made divorce much more difficult. Eliot quickly reached the point where he never wanted to see his wife again, so why he might have wanted to force himself to remain married to her is hard to figure. Perhaps it protected him from marriage to others. There were other women who wished to marry him, though again probably more for his poetry than his personality.

 

In 1932, he accepted a one-year appointment to teach at Harvard. He didn't take his wife. While away, he had his solicitors send her a letter stating he intended to separate. Tom was quite the romantic. When he returned, he did everything imaginable to avoid seeing her. He was quite successful at it. He hid where he lived and had his secretaries protect him where he worked. In the last 15 years of their marriage, she saw him only once, despite repeated attempts to reach him. That came at a lecture/book signing. She sneaked in. She spent the evening staring at him adoringly, and at the end, brought a couple of books to be signed before him and asked if he would come home with her. “I cannot talk to you now,” he replied. That was it, their only personal communication in the last 15 years of marriage. However, it should be noted that he did sign the books for her.

 

In fairness to Eliot, she was becoming more and more deranged and beyond his capacity to handle. In 1937, her brother had her committed to an asylum. The final act came after he had to retrieve her wandering the streets of London at 5:00 a.m. She was asking whether her husband had been beheaded. We know she wasn't thinking straight, for if she were, she would have known that the guillotine was a French thing. Vivienne remained in the institution until she died ten years later.

 

Having separated from his wife, Eliot became involved in two very long term relationships. One was with an American woman in whom he was interested before he was married, and was reportedly as dull as he. The other was a more interesting British woman. The relationships apparently were strictly platonic. Each of the women was highly desirous of marriage, the British one reportedly proposing to Eliot three times. He demurred. So, it was with great surprise that in 1957, he up and married Valerie Fletcher.

 

Valerie was terribly smitten with Eliot from afar, which was perhaps the only way to become smitten with him. She fell in love with his poetry and transferred those affections to him personally. Having heard his poetry as a school girl, she declared either that she would work for him or marry him (I have heard it described both ways). Whichever she said, it came to pass. In 1949, she got a job as his secretary at Faber and Faber, the publishing house where he had a day job through most of his career. In 1957, they married. Eliot was 68, Miss Fletcher 30. Rounding off, that's almost a 40 year age difference.

 

Surprisingly enough, it turned out to be a wonderful marriage. Eliot remained the poet in Valerie's eyes, not an old man in declining health. Valerie was the perfect homebody wife for the intensely private Eliot. She said they would stay home, make dinner, and play Scrabble. For Eliot, who had endured the public spectacle of his first wife's eccentricities, this was exactly what he wanted. Valerie later observed that he couldn't have died in peace without this marriage. The only shortcoming would be its inevitable brevity. Eliot died in 1965. They had 8 years of marriage, while Valerie had 47 years of widowhood. She devoted those 47 years to his memory.

 

She was in charge of his estate. Eliot wanted no biographies, so she cooperated with no biographers. She published his letters, of which there were many, slowly, some still not released. Her interest was in protecting his wishes and reputation, not enriching herself. She might never have had the money to amass this fine art collection but for a twist of fate. Valerie was approached for permission to use Eliot's atypical book, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, a humorous book of verse about cats, for a musical play. She saw no harm to Eliot's reputation in this project. She consented. The book was the basis for Andrew Lloyd Webber's enormously successful play, Cats. It ran for 21 years in London, 18 on Broadway. It made an enormous amount of unexpected money for Valerie. Eliot's practical cats proved to be of unimaginable practical benefit to Eliot's wife. He undoubtedly would have been very pleased.

 

The collection will be auctioned at Christie's on November 20. The official title of the sale is A Life's Devotion: The Collection of the Late Mrs. T. S. Eliot. Mrs. Eliot collected British art, and the collection is likely to prove to be worth many millions of dollars. It includes over 200 portrait miniatures, an art form mostly supplanted by the development of photography. Some go back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. There are also numerous watercolors, drawings and prints, including many 20th century works. One by Winston Churchill could bring close to $1/2 million.

 

Neither of the Eliots had children. Proceeds from the auction will go to fund Old Possum's Practical Trust, which Mrs. Eliot created in 1990. Its stated purpose is to “support literary, artistic, musical and theatrical projects and organisations.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Bohr (Niels). <i>On the Constitution of Atoms and Molecules,</i> first edition, presentation copy, offprint 1913. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Shakespeare's Falstaff.- Henry V & Sir John Fastolf. Indenture agreement appointing Fastolf as Keeper of the Bastille of St Anthony at Paris, manuscript in French, 1421. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> World.- Purchas (Samuel). <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Books...,</i> 5 vol., first edition, 7 folding engraved maps, contemporary calf, by William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, 1625-26. £20,000 to £30,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Book of Hours.- Use of Rouen, manuscript on vellum, in Latin and French, illuminated with 14 full-page miniatures by the workshop or follower of the Maitre de l'Echevinage, Rouen, 1480s. £20,000 t0 £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Giese (Raban, ?scholar and medical doctor). Album Amicorum of drawing on his travels and acquaintances in Europe 1618-21, 134 watercolour illustrations including c. 60 professional miniatures, 1618-39. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Jones (David). 14 Autograph Letters signed, 1952-68; and a small quantity of ephemera (sm. qty). £6,000 to £8,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Constable (John). Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery, signed presentation inscription from Constable, 1833. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). The Descent from the Cross: Second Plate, etching and engraving, 1633. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Salvin (Francis Henry) and William Brodrick. <i>Falconry in the British Isles,</i> second edition, William Brodrick's copy with 3 original watercolours by him, 1873. £8,000 to £12,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> China.- Helman (Isidore Stanislas Henri). <i>Suite des seize estampes representant les conquetes de l'Empereur de la Chine,</i> 1783-88. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Pratt (Edward Roger, 1789-1863). Album of 28 watercolours and other works on paper from a journey to ancient sites and monuments in the Mediterranean, [c.1830 and later]. £3,000 to £5,000
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Fust-Schöffer-Bibel from Gutenberg-Press, 1462. Est: € 1,000,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. W. Weinmann, <i>Phytanthoza-Iconographia,</i> 1735-45. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>O. Kokoschka, <i>Die träumenden Knaben,</i> 1917. Est: € 10,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>Z. Lilius, <i>Orbis breviarium,</i> 1493. <br>Est: € 10,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> <i>Gazette du Bon Ton,</i> 1912-22.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Daphnis & Chloé,</i> 1961. Est: € 100,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Ptolemaeus, <i>Geographie,</i> 1513.<br>Est: € 100,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>E. L. Kirchner, <i>Umbra vitae,</i> 1924.<br>Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Miró, <i>Midi le trèfle blanc,</i> 1968. Est: € 2,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Clemens V., <i>Constitutiones,</i> 1471.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Gesner, <i>Tierbuch, Vogelbuch, Fischbuch,</i> 1563-81. Est: € 5,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Itten, <i>Utopia,</i> 1921. Est: € 2,000
  • <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Peter I, Tsar]. <i>Simboly i emblemata ukazom i blagopovedenii imperatora Petra Alekseevicha [Symbola et emblemata jussu atque auspiciis Petri Alexeidis].</i> Amsterdam, 1705. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Charlemagne, Adolf. Benefice d'Adieu de Madame Naptal. [St Petersburg: 16th February 1873]. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Military. Album.] [An album of drawings of weapons and their accessories, drawn from nature by the Second Cadets Corps.] St Petersburg, 1800. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Pushkin, Alexander. <i>Evgenii Onegin.</i> St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1825-1832. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Sumarokov, Pavel. <i>Dosugi krymskogo sud’i ili vtoroe puteshestvie v Tavridu. [The Leisure of a Crimean Judge or a Second Tour to Tauris].</i> St Petersburg: Imperial Press, 1803-5. £50,000 to £80,000

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