Rare first edition of C.S. Lewis’ “Spirits in Bondage”

LONDON — To mark the 50th Anniversary of the death of leading children’s author C.S.Lewis, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions are offering a first edition of his first published work, Spirits in Bondage. It will be sold as part of printed books, maps, works Spirits in Bondage cover on paper and original artwork at the auctioneers’ Mayfair saleroom on Wednesday 18th December.

Spirits in Bondage (1919), a collection of poetry, was published under Lewis’ pseudonym ‘Clive Hamilton’. This copy was owned by his cousin, Clare Clapperton, who was later to relate how she and Lewis played together as children.

In his book: Into the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles, biographer David C. Downing notes how in later life Clare Clapperton recalled: “…a large, ornately carved oak wardrobe…Claire [sic] remembered that sometimes as children they would climb into the wardrobe and sit in the dark, listening to “Jacks” tell adventure stories”

Saddened by the death of his dog Jacksie, a four year old Lewis declared he would answer to no other name than that of his beloved dog. It was later abbreviated to Jack, a name by which he would be known to family and friends for the rest of his life.

Written before Lewis’s conversion to Christianity and move away from poetry towards novel writing, Spirits in Bondage received a frosty reception with his publisher subsequently destroying most copies.

This rare survivor was discovered in a second-hand book shop by the present owner who, unaware of its true value or provenance, thought that it looked like a good read. In good condition, it is estimated at $13,700 – $20,000.

Other first editions include a sought after first issue of Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens. In three volumes, with the rare ‘fireside’ plate and bound in original cloth, it is Spirits in Bondageestimated at $1,500 – $2,000

Offering an important insight into the methods of a working press is William Morris’s annotated copy of Thomas More’s political and philosophical novel, Utopia. This printer’s copy has pencil notes by Morris, owner of the Kelmscott Press, indicating border and font alterations for the Kelmscott Press edition alongside the editor’s ink annotations and spelling suggestions. On p.120 the editor, F.S. Ellis, underlines “wonders gentilly” and writes in the margin: “refer to Mr Morris if he would make this ‘wondrous’” (it remained unchanged).

The book was owned by ’The Great Biographer’ Robert Proctor and bears a bookplate and label which reads: “Given by Mrs Proctor in memory of William Morris & of her son Robert Proctor.” Proctor disappeared whilst on a walking holiday in the Austrian Alps and was never seen again. His copy of Utopia is estimated at $4,100 – $5,500.

The sale will be held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, in London on Wednesday 18th December, with viewing Monday 16th November (9.30am-5.30pm) and Tuesday 17th (9.30am-7.30pm). The catalogue is available to view online here and information about online bidding with no additional fee is available at www.dnfa.com.

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