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Pooh and Christopher Robin books, as one might have expected, were responsible for several of the higher prices, but the collection was certainly not restricted to the well-known books. It contained examples from all aspects of Milne’s writing career and opened with a first edition of his first book, Lovers in London, that contained pieces previously published in St. James’s Gazette. As Ann Thwaite, author of the Whitbread prize-winning biography of Milne, wrote in the catalogue introduction, Milne was rather glad to see it go out of print and probably agreed with a Sheffield Independent reviewer who said that “the only
readable portion of the book is the title”, and claimed to have paid £5 to buy back the copyright and prevent a reprint.

An autograph letter of 1925 from Milne, stuck to the front pastedown of the copy offered by Bloomsbury, is also rather dismissive of his book, but it is nevertheless the first in a long line and Lot No.1 in the BBA sale, which comprised one copy in torn and defective jacket, plus a rebound and incomplete copy, was sold at £150.

Pictured is a signed copy, in a rather torn dust wrapper, of the 1922 first edition of The Red House Mystery, his first piece of detective fiction, which sold for £1900. (Last December, at Sotheby’s, an unsigned but better preserved copy made £100 less. Buyer’s premium: 15/10%