First edition of Gulliver's Travels heads Bonhams rare book sale

Victorian Reader

Victorian Reader

2017-02-10 10:59:16

A first-edition copy of the classic tale 'Gulliver's Travels' will lead a Bonhams sale of rare books and manuscripts in London next month.

The auction will offer a major private collection of 18th and 19th century fantasy and science fiction literature, assembled over many years by a French bibliophile.

"This is a first-class collection of works by European writers and thinkers using their imagination to speculate on the existence of other worlds and to cast light on their own," said Matthew Haley, Bonhams Head of Fine Books and Manuscripts.

"Sometimes satirically, as in the case of Swift, and sometimes with scientific and philosophical purpose, as with Wilkins and Descartes, the authors in this collection are united in their need to make sense of the universe and the time in which they lived."

'Gulliver's Travels' was written by Jonathan Swift, regarded by many as the finest satirist in literary history, and was first published in October 1762 under the original title 'Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World ... by Lemuel Gulliver'.

It was an instant success, selling out within two weeks, and has since become one of the most widely read works of 18th century English literature. The rare, first edition copy offered at Bonhams is expected to sell for £20,000 - £30,000.

Another notable lot from the collection is a first edition copy of Johannes Kepler's 'Somnium, seu opus posthumum de astronomia lunari. Divulgatum (A Dream: or, a Posthumous Work of Lunar Astronomy)', published posthumously in 1634.

The book, which features an imaginary voyage to the moon, is also estimated to sell for £20,000 - £30,000.

The theme of fantastic voyages and flights of fancy dominates the collection. Further highlights include 'La découverte australe par un homme-volant, ou le Dédale francais' by Restif de la Bretonne, which features mythical lands, flying machines and tribes of men crossed with frogs and elephants; and a second edition copy of Jules Verne's classic From the Earth to the Moon, which envisaged a journey to the moon (and the science required to get there) more than a century before the Apollo 11 mission.

Bonhams' Fine Books and Manuscripts sale takes place in London on Wednesday March 1.

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