Lewis Carroll letter in manuscripts auction

The price of fame

A letter from Lewis Carroll lamenting the drawbacks of fame (estimated at £3,000-£4,000) is among the 227 lots at Bonhams London’s sale of books and manuscripts on March 19 (www.bonhams.com). In it, the author, writing under his real name, Charles Dodgson, moans to his friend Mrs Symonds: ‘All that sort of publicity leads to strangers hearing of my real name in connection with the books, and to my being pointed out to, and stared at by, strangers, and treated as a “lion”. And I hate all that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish I had never written any books at all.’

The tone is similar in T. E. Lawrence’s reply to a friend who had asked him if he could name his newborn son Lawrence (£4,000-£6,000): ‘Of course Lawrence may have been the name of your absolutely favourite cousin or aunt… but if it isn’t, aren’t you handicapping “it”? In the history of the world (cheap edition) I’m a sublimated Aladdin, the thousand and second Knight, a Strand-Magazine strummer.’

Top lots include archives of the Irish writer Christy Brown (£30,000-£40,000), a first edition of Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (£3,000-£5,000), an annotated proof copy of Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief (£8,000-£12,000) and E. M. Forster’s typewriter (£2,000-£3,000, pictured).

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