Virginia Woolf rare books and memorabilia

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wikicollecting

2015-06-26 10:34:41

Virginia Woolf rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to English modernist writer Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941).

Brief History/biography

One of the most respected and influential female writers in history, Virginia Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society during the interwar period. Her writing is held in high esteem worldwide, and her influence visible in much modern literature. Together with several other renowned literary figures of the early 20th century, Woolf formed the Bloomsbury Group, an intellectual and literary circle of artists and writers. Her best known works include Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and her long essay on the lifestyle of women living in bedsits in the 1920s, A Room of One’s Own (1929). Throughout her life, Woolf suffered from mental instability and depression , which affected her social life, but not her writing. She is considered one of the greatest innovators in the English language, particularly with stream-of-consciousness style and the deep examination of the psychology and emotions of her characters.

Types of rare books and memorabilia

Books

Bloomsbury Auctions

  • To the Lighthouse (1927) first American edition, sold for $5,000 in December 2008.
  • A Room of One’s Own (1929) first trade edition, sold for £2,600 in May 2007.
  • Orlando (1928) first edition, signed by the author, sold for £1,600 in May 2001.

Bonhams

  • To the Lighthouse (1927) first edition, sold for £15,535 in December 2003.
  • Jacob’s Room (1922), first edition, signed by the author, sold for £12,600 in March 2011.
  • A Room of One’s Own (1929), first English edition, sold for £6,572 in December 2003.
  • On Being Ill (1930), first separate edition, one of 250 copies signed by the author, sold for £6,572 in December 2003.
  • The Years (1937) first edition, sold for £2,509 in December 2003.

Christie’s

  • To the Lighthouse (1927) first edition, signed by Woolf, sold for £15,600 in November 2006.
  • Jacob’s Room (1922), first edition, signed by Woolf, sold for $14,400 in November 2006.
  • A Room of One’s Own (1929), first English edition, signed by Woolf, sold for £10,800 in November 2006.
  • Mrs Dalloway (1925), first edition, sold for $17,250 in December 1996.
  • The Waves (1931), first edition, sold for £6,573 in June 2004.
  • The Common Reader (1925), first edition, second impression. Sold for $5,040 in November 2006.
  • Orlando (1928) first edition, limited issue, sold for $9,560 in October 2002.

Sothebys

  • Mrs Dalloway (1925) first edition, inscribed by Woolf, sold for £30,000 in July 2006.
  • Night and Day (1919) first edition, inscribed by Woolf, sold for £22,800 in July 2006.
  • Jacob’s Room (1922), first edition, inscribed by Woolf, sold for £21,600 in July 2006.
  • The Waves (1931), first edition, inscribed by Woolf, sold for £14,400 in June 2007.
  • A Room of One’s Own, bound set of first page proofs dated 1929, sold for £9,600 in July 2006.
  • To the Lighthouse (1927) first edition, sold for £7,200 in June 2007.

Documents, Autographs and Photographs

Bloomsbury Auctions

  • Typed letter signed Virginia, dated 1933. Sold for $8,500 in June 2008.

Bonhams

  • Typescript signed by Woolf with handwritten amendments, dated 1940, sold for £27,500 in November 2011.
  • Typed letter signed Virginia Woolf, dated 1930, sold for $9,760 in April 2011.

Christie’s

  • A collection of unpublished letters with signatures, sold for £26,400 in November 2006.
  • Signed typescript with amendments, sold for £14,900 in November 2007.
  • A collection of typed letters, postcards etc, signed. Sold for $16,100 in December 1995.

Guide for collectors

It is important to ascertain whether a copy is first, second, third, or later impressions of the first edition as this can dramatically alter the value. First editions were often printed in limited issues, with some special aspect to the issue such as being printed on Japon vellum, having a particular dust-jacket design, being signed, or just being the very first issue. If one of these limited issues, especially if numbered, makes a copy more valuable.

Original dust-jackets in good condition are very desirable, particularly those designed by Woolf's sister Vanessa Bell, as many of Woolf’s first editions were. Retaining this will make a book much more valuable.

Virginia Woolf has a huge following, as a writer, a modernist, and in the feminist sphere. Items relating to her personal life, including letters and signatures, are extremely sought-after. While first editions of her works alone can be worth a lot, a signature or inscription to a friend or contemporary will render a first edition copy of her work greatly increased in value.

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