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Sotheby’s auction 21 May

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First Editions, Second Thoughts

An auction of 50 contemporary first editions, annotated by their authors

In partnership with Sotheby’s, English PEN is delighted to share plans for a unique auction on the evening of 21 May at Sotheby’s in London.  All proceeds raised on the night will go to benefit English PEN’s core programmes to defend the freedom to write and the freedom to read. 

Fifty of the UK and Commonwealth’s most outstanding contemporary writers, many of them long-term members of English PEN, have annotated, commented on or illustrated a first edition copy of one of their works. Authors including Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Alan Bennett, William Boyd, Margaret Drabble, Helen Fielding, Nadine Gordimer, David Hare, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Howard Jacobson, Ian McEwan, Michael Morpurgo, J.K. Rowling, Lionel Shriver, Ralph Steadman, Tom Stoppard and Jeanette Winterson, have generously contributed to the sale.  Their unique personalised books, with extensive authorial annotations, offer a fascinating insight into each author’s creative process and the genesis and nature of their work.

Rick Gekoski, trustee of English PEN, rare book dealer and curator of the sale said:

In 40 years in the rare book trade I have never seen a collection of books to compare with those in this sale.  In many cases, the commentaries will affect how the book is to be read and understood in the future.

English PEN wishes to acknowledge Rick Gekoski for helping us realise this project, together with Dr Philip Errington, Director of Printed Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s, London. Even more we are indebted to all our writers who have contributed such goodwill to the sale.

You can browse the lots in the sale, read more about the background to the auction, and register your interest to bid here www.englishpen.org/FEST

You can read an exclusive feature about the auction in the FT Weekend Magazine published on Saturday 27 April.

You can follow us on Twitter in the run-up to and during the auction on 21 May at @englishpen #PENAuction

We acknowledge the support of our media partner FT Weekend and J Safra Brokerage Limited.

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