Entertainment & Arts

First draft of Withnail and I set for auction

Richard Griffiths Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richard Griffiths played Uncle Monty in the black comedy

The first draft of the novel that went on to be turned into cult film Withnail and I is set for auction at Sotheby's.

The film, starring Richard E Grant and Paul McGann, depicts the lives of two unemployed actors who spend a disastrous weekend in the countryside.

The copy of Bruce Robinson's novel, written between 1969 and 1970, is estimated to reach between £4,000 and £6,000 when it goes under the hammer.

It includes extensive handwritten revisions by Robinson.

He has described Withnail and I as "70% autobiographical" - and was living in a house in Camden, north London, where much of it is set, when he was writing the novel.

The work for sale also includes a page torn from a magazine featuring the author and his flatmates outside their house in the late 1960s.

Withnail and I was adapted for the screen in 1987, produced by former Beatle George Harrison's HandMade Films and directed by Robinson.

It also starred Richard Griffiths as the flamboyant Uncle Monty, in whose rural cottage Withnail (Grant) and McGann (I) stay.

While it did not make an impression at the box office at the time, it became hugely popular in the following decade - particularly with students.

It became famous for lines including Withnail's: "We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now."

The draft is to be auctioned as part of Sotheby's sale of English literature, history, children's books and illustrations on 15 December.

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