Auden’s Stop all the Clocks manuscript at Bonhams



2015-06-26 11:19:07

Auden’s Stop all the Clocks manuscript at Bonhams

A hand-written manuscript of W. H. Auden’s famous and achingly poignant poem ‘Stop all the Clocks’ is to be offered at Bonhams on April 10.

This unique item originates from the exceedingly notable Roy Davids Collection of handwritten manuscripts. It will be sold in Part I of Part III of this collection, the section devoted to Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets.

Stop all the Clocks first appeared as a burlesque dirge, part of the poetic drama The Ascent of F6, written by Auden with his friend the writer Christopher Isherwood in 1936.

The poem consisted of five verses, later recast by Auden as a Cabaret song, intended for the vocal talents of soprano Hedli Anderson.

The editing process saw the poem shrink to four verses. The final version was published in 1940 in Auden’s collection Another Time, under the title ‘Funeral Blues’. The manuscript offered at Bonhams is identical to the final published version, has the interim title of ‘Blues’, and almost certainly dates from 1937.

The poem rose from comparative obscurity to become one of the best-known verses in the world following its starring tearjerker role in the popular 1990s British romantic comedy, Four Weddings and a Funeral.

The manuscript is expected to sell for £6,000-£8,000. It will be sold alongside a handwritten poem of John Keats, ‘I stood tiptoe on a little hill’.

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