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A copy of A Confederacy of Dunces, published 11 years after author John Kennedy Toole committed suicide, sold at Freemans of Philadelphia for at $5000 (£3815).

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Percy also wrote a foreword to this New Orleans-based novel, which was printed in 1980 in an edition of 2800 copies, and two or three examples bearing Percy’s signature are to be found among the higher-placed copies in auction records.

When another such copy emerged in a September 27 sale held by Freemans (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) of Philadelphia (above), it went straight to the top of the auction price lists at $5000 (£3815).

The story of Ignatius J Reilly and his often colourful adventures in the French Quarter of New Orleans earned Toole a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1981 and the book is now considered a modern classic where literature about the South is concerned.

The book takes its title from an essay by Swift, in which he wrote: “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”