6 Fascinating Inscriptions That Offer A Glimpse Into The Lives Of Classic Authors

03/25/2014 04:27 pm ET | Updated Mar 25, 2014
Sotheby's

A glimpse into the lives of classic authors, however brief, can be thrilling. We're wowed by photos of their writing desks, we analyze their sleeping habits, and we swoon over their love letters. Which is why a Sotheby's auction showcasing first editions of classic works -- including those inscribed with personal notes from their authors -- is enough to make us salivate.

The exhibition, A Modern Library: The Gordon Waldorf Collection, will take place on April 1, and features such gems as a first edition of William Faulkner's Light in August, inscribed to a childhood friend and estimated to go for somewhere between $40,000-$60,000 (!!!).

Probably the most fascinating item is a first edition of On the Road with an inscription in which Jack Kerouac admits that the book is based on his own life. It reads, "You will find a striking resemblance between Remi Boncoeur in Chapter Eleven and your good friend Henri Cru – As ‘Sal Paradise’ in this book I should know because I was there."

Check out these 6 fascinating inscriptions from classic authors:

  • Inscription for 'A Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess
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  • Inscription reads: "To Dr. McMichael – A substitute appendix from John B. Wilson (‘Anthony Burgess’) June 1962." As the legend goes, Burgess took up writing to provide security for his widow-to-be when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness by a London-based doctor in 1959. Since neither Burgess nor his biographer mention the doctor by name, it is possible that it was Dr. McMichael who provided the original impulse for both A Clockwork Orange and an embarrassment of novels, criticism, symphonies and scripts subsequently issued from Burgess’s pen.
  • Inscription for 'The Waste Land' by T.S. Eliot
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  • Inscribed to Eliot’s patroness, Lady Mary Lilian Rothermere: "For Viscountess Rothermere with the homage of the author."
  • Inscription for 'Light in August' by William Faulkner
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  • Inscribed on the front endpaper: "For Myrtle Ramey, / Oxford, Miss. 30 [March?] 1934." Faulkner met Myrtle Ramey in 1906, when he skipped a year in school and joined the third grade. He would remain lifelong friends with the fragile but intelligent girl, with whom he spent countless hours sharing favorite authors and titles. When he began to publish, Faulkner counted her among the few friends and family to whom he inscribed copies of his books.
  • 'Three Stories and Ten Poems' by Ernest Hemingway
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  • Inscription for 'Three Stories and Ten Poems' by Ernest Hemingway
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  • Inscription reads: "To Frank Curtin / with all best wishes / from Ernest Hemingway / November 1, 1927 / Paris". Sent by Hemingway to Curtin from Paris, with the original mailing envelope addressed by the author, reusing a mailer he had received, "c/o the Guarantee Trust Company."
  • Inscription for 'The Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemingway
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  • A presentation copy of the first edition, inscribed to his Goddaughter Alden Calmer as a belated wedding gift, on the front endpaper: "For Alden / this strange book which / I had the un-believable (sp.) / luck to write / E.H." Alden was the daughter of Ned Calmer, who wrote for the Paris Herald Tribune in the early 1930s, when he befriended Hemingway. Alden was born in 1930 and was baptized in 1933 with Hemingway present as her godfather in the church of Ste. Sulpice.
  • Inscription for 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac
    Sotheby's
  • An important presentation copy of the first edition in which the author reveals himself to be the book’s narrator: "Dear Janie Adams, You will find a striking resemblance between Remi Boncoeur in Chapter Eleven and your good friend Henri Cru – As ‘Sal Paradise’ in this book I should know because I was there. Best Wishes, Jack Kerouac, July 5, 1959."

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