One of six engraved illustrations by William Blake provided the frontispiece for a 1791, first illustrated edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories from Real Life; with Conversations, calculated to …Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness that sold for £2200 at Forum.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

An anonymously published Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest… was one of several rarities to be found in a February 10 sale held by Forum (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) in London.

Comprising a 1696 third edition of Part I and a first of Part II of the following year, it made up a first complete edition of a work that led to its then anonymous author, Mary Astell (1666-1731), coming in time to be recognised as the first English feminist.

In a worn but contemporary calf binding, it sold online at a record £5500 and was part of a small collection of similarly themed works that also generated a recordequalling £3500 for a 1787 first of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Thoughts on the Education of Daughters… and female conduct generally.

Another Wollstonecraft lot from this property features among the accompanying illustrations.

Austen lots

Among a group of more costly Jane Austen lots in the sale was a threevolume, 1813 first of her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice.

In neatly re-backed but contemporary half calf, it lacked its half titles, along with one text leaf from Vol I, and showed other faults of condition, but it did contain an inscription by its first owner that identified it as an April 1813 gift from her mother. It sold online at £39,000.

An 1816 first of Emma, again lacking half titles but in a repaired contemporary binding of half calf, realised £16,000.

A seemingly complete run of playbills for Covent Garden’s Theatre Royal, covering the period September 1839 to April 1843 and amounting to some 1300 playbills in all, realised £11,000.

Signed by Tolkien

The binding was a modern one of red calf gilt, but the three volumes that made up a 1954-55 first edition of The Lord of the Rings were all first impressions and the final volume bore Tolkien’s signature. It made £35,000.

Sold at £7000 was an ex-Nottingham Public Library copy of a May 1824 issue of The Friend of the Law: Journal of the Government and Island of Hydra.

Running to just six pages, it is a reminder of the revered status of Byron in Greece and refers to a planned day of national mourning and other tributes to their hero that followed his death, aged just 36, in the previous month.

Reference is made to flags being at half-mast on all forts and ships, to the closure of all public offices excepting those where medical supplies are sold, land based gun salutes, naval broadsides, etc.

Disbound and lacking the early and final pages was a 20pp manuscript account of a failed insurrection on board a convict ship bound for Australia in 1791.

It tells of the ship’s master discharging a blunderbuss and wounding the sword wielding ringleader of a group of prisoners who had managed to free themselves of their irons, but who quickly abandoned their uprising on seeing their leader wounded. The manuscript sold at £7000.