Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Since then this famous book is said to have been translated into between 200 and 300 languages or dialects and to have sold around 140,000 million copies worldwide.

Shown above is one of 260 signed copies of the 1943 French version, the jacket a little browned and showing some restoration. In a June 8 Timed Bidsquare sale held by Cowans (17.5/15% buyer’s premium) of Cincinnati it sold at $9533 (£7445), including those premiums and local taxes.

Much more expensive were the two original watercolour drawings made by the author for his book that were offered by Artcurial (23/20/17% buyer’s premium) in Paris on June 14.

Acquired by the vendor at a 1985 sale of items from the estate of Saint-Exupéry’s wife, Consuelo, the illustrations show Le Petit Prince watching a sunset and playing on his stomach in a rose garden. They were bid to €230,000 (£179,690) and €175,000 (£136,720) respectively.

Following the German invasion of France, Saint-Exupéry, a very experienced pilot as well as a writer and poet with two or three earlier and much-admired flying-inspired books to his name, had escaped to the US.

After a couple of years or so he returned to serve his country once more as a pilot but was lost when his plane disappeared over the Mediterranean in 1944.

Eleven years ago, partial remains of a reconnaissance aircraft of the type that he had been flying were found by divers and subsequently identified as belonging to that flown by Saint-Exupéry.