'Magnificent" collection of books to be auctioned

image captionThe copy of A Christmas Carol features an inscription by Dickens

A "magnificent" collection of first edition books is expected to fetch up to £15m when it goes under the hammer later this year.

The books, from Shakespeare's collected poems to James Joyce's Ulysses, will be sold at Sotheby's in London.

The collection also includes a copy of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol complete with author's inscription.

Book specialist Peter Selley said it was one of the finest collections of 19th Century English literature seen.

The value of the whole collection of 3,000 books has been roughly estimated at between £8m-£15m.

It will be broken into a series of sales starting in London on 28 October, where some of the principal lots will be offered.

Original condition

Highlights include first editions of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice, as well as important works by Charles Darwin, Chaucer and Milton.

There is also a first collection of TS Eliot poems with a personal inscription by the author to Virginia Woolf, a copy of Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone in its original cloth, and Samuel Beckett's novel Murphy in its original dustjacket.

The inscribed copy of A Christmas Carol, which Dickens gave to his friend, the actor William Macready, reads: "To Macready, From his affectionate friend, Charles Dickens, New Year's Day 1844."

Further sales will take place in London and New York at a later date.

Mr Selley, Sotheby's English literature specialist, said the collection - which has been put together over 30 years - was remarkable for the quality of the books and was already attracting a lot of interest from collectors.

He said: "I have been in this business since the 1980s and most collectors have been American, but here is an English collector who has gathered what must be the greatest collection of 19th Century literature.

"You feel rather punch drunk looking at it. There is not just one highlight - there is one highlight after another. It is the finest collection I am ever likely to see in my lifetime."

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