Shelf:Life - Links to what's new in the world of old, rare, and collectable books, insights into book collecting, the news stories that matter, and occasional comments by TheBookGuide.  Archived Stories.

May 2013

Morocco desert museum for Little Prince aviator-author
Battling the wind in his World War I biplane, a French pilot landed on a sandy Moroccan airstrip. Nearly 90 years on, a museum honours his stay and the world-renowned book it inspired. "Antoine de Saint-Exupery the writer was partly born here, in Tarfaya, where he spent two years as station manager of Aeropostale," says Sadat Shaibat Mrabihrabou, opening the doors to the small museum in Morocco's far south, where the sea and the desert meet ... more  Add a comment

Beckett manuscript set to fetch 1m
Six exercise books of the writer's work on his first novel Murphy, and only seen by a handful of people, are being offered by Sotheby's in London next month ... more  Add a comment

Rudyard Kipling admits 'The Jungle Book' plagiariam
Rudyard Kipling might have plagiarised his most famous literary work "The Jungle Book" from an unknown source. A recently discovered signed letter written in 1985 reveals that the celebrated English author admitted to stealing the idea for the book ... more  Add a comment

Timbuktu's manuscripts face new threat
The climate in the south of Mali is more humid than in Timbuktu and the fragile rag paper texts are now showing signs of mildew and rot. "It would be the ultimate irony if all of these had survived the evacuation but had been destroyed because we don't have the resources to archival box them and insert humidity traps for the period they are in exile," said Diakité, who has now started a campaign to raise the estimated $7 million it will cost to rescue the manuscripts ... more  Add a comment

'Kiss in Times Square' Leica camera fetches nearly $150,000
The Leica IIIa rangefinder that Albert Eisenstaedt used to take the famous Kiss in Times Square photo on V-J Day has sold at auction for Euro 114,000 (about $147,000). The bidding war turned out to be a huge success for auction house Westlicht, which had expected the camera to go for between Euro 20,000 and 25,000 ($26,000 - 33,000) ... more  Add a comment

Rare 'Superman' comic book sells for over $100k
A Superman comic book worth more than $100,000 was found in an abandoned home in Elbow Lake, Minnesota. David Gonzalez bought the home for $10,000 and was working on fixing it up when he found it in the wall ... more  Add a comment

Harry Potter book sells for a record 150,000
Nicholas Blincoe was at last night's PEN auction, First Editions, Second Thoughts, where 50 books annotated by their authors raised £439,200 for charity ... more  Add a comment

Lennon lyrics donated to British Library for tax relief
Beatles biographer Hunter Davies has donated letters and lyrics by John Lennon to the British Library as part of a new tax relief scheme. His collection, which includes handwritten lyrics to Strawberry Fields Forever, is the first donation through the new Cultural Gifts Scheme ... more  Add a comment

Justin Rowe book art opens at British Academy
Unwanted books consigned to the shelves of charity shops have been rescued by a Cambridge bookseller and turned into works of art for a literature festival ... more  Add a comment

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion
How many of your "five a day" have you had so far today? Did you avoid running for your train in the rain last night, knowing the station floor might be slippery? Or maybe you felt a twinge of nationalism handing over the Queen's smiley face on a fiver for your morning coffee? Propaganda, it seems, is everywhere. The British Library's new exhibition provides an exploration of the persuasive power of this state tool, looking at examples from ancient Rome to the present day ... more  Add a comment

Buying books: does a good read mean good returns?
Copies of vintage detective novels can be a great investment - but be sure to investigate first. Toby Walne explains ... more  Add a comment

Coleg Harlech auction raises around 100,000
Coleg Harlech in Gwynedd put 350 pieces of art, sculpture and rare books under the hammer in an attempt to relieve some of its £900,000 debt.Rare books in the sale included a 1550 edition of Girolamo Cardano's encyclopaedia De Subtilitate and a 1703 first edition of Ellis Wynne's Gweledigaethau y Bardd Cwsg  ... more  Add a comment

Stirling teacher's first-edition books fetch 226,000
A treasure trove of literary first editions collected by an English teacher has sold at auction in Edinburgh for a total of £226,000 ... more  Add a comment

Bid to censor Anne Frank's 'pornographic' diary fails
A mother's attempt to ban Anne Frank's diary from classrooms in Michigan over "pornographic" anatomical descriptions has failed, after a committee ruled that the title's removal "would effectively impose situational censorship ... more  Add a comment

'It's like going to meet your gran and finding she's turned into Beyonc'
After three years and £55million the Liverpool Central Library is finally due to be re-opened this week - and is already drawing gasps at the stunning result. The writer Frank Cottrell Boyce said that the new library had been completely overhauled to an unrecognisable degree. He said: 'It's like going to meet your gran and finding out that she's turned into Beyonce,' he told the Daily Telegraph ... more  Add a comment

'Lost' WH Auden journal to be sold
 A journal written by WH Auden that for decades was believed lost has been unearthed, shedding new light on a critical year in the life of one of the giants of 20th century poetry. The notebook will be auctioned next month at Christie's as part of a valuable printed books and manuscripts sale. The estimated value is between £40,000 and £60,000. The auction house's catalogue describes it as the "most significant Auden manuscript to have been offered at auction" ... more  Add a comment

"The Surf Riders of Hawaii" sold for $27,000
A rare Hawaii photography book considered to be the first book on surfing sold for $27,000 at an auction in California yesterday, according to a press release. "The Surf Riders of Hawaii" is composed of six heavy sheets of woven brown paper mounted with eight gelatin-silver photographs of Native Hawaiian surfers, including Duke Kahanamoku ... more  Add a comment

World records for poetry manuscripts at auction
If we need any further proof that the art of writing is endangered have a look at the astounding results of  the recent auction of poetry manuscripts held at Bonham's ... more  Add a comment

Mammoth project to archive manuscripts
After more than 50 years of meticulous work, German specialists say the end is in sight for efforts to make previously unregistered manuscripts in scripts and languages of Asia, the Middle East and Africa accessible through printed catalogues ... more  Add a comment

Teacher's book collection could fetch 230,000
A first edition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is among a treasure trove of books being auctioned in Edinburgh this week ... more  Add a comment

Library celebrates 225th anniversary
The Linenhall Library in Belfast is celebrating its 225th birthday today. It is the only subscription library left in Ireland and the oldest such archive in Belfast ... more  Add a comment

What inspires Bill Gates?
What inspires a billionaire? In the case of Bill Gates, it's a 500-year-old manuscript penned by Italian genius Leonardo da Vinci. And at $30.8 million, it was probably a bargain to the Microsoft founder, who considers it a priceless symbol of knowledge ... more  Add a comment

Rare Mao photo fetches $55,300 in auction
A photo of Mao relaxing in a wicker chair against a scenic backdrop of popular tourist destination Lushan Mountain has fetched 340,000 yuan ($55,300) at an auction yesterday, 10 times the pre-sale estimate ... more  Add a comment

Philip Larkin handwritten poem up for auction
A handwritten poem that Philip Larkin forgot he had written is expected to sell at auction for more than £3,000. The auctioneers, Bonhams, said it was the first time a handwritten poem by Larkin had come to auction ... more  Add a comment

Treasures found in 'lostness'
Rick Gekoski's collection of essays offers tantalising glimpses into lost treasures - among them Byron's burned memoirs and a jewel-encrusted Rubaiyat ... more  Add a comment

Rare signed copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin discovered
A rare signed copy of the anti-slavery novel said to have laid the ground work for the American Civil War has been unearthed amid the tens of thousands of books donated for Scotland's biggest annual second-hand book fair ... more  Add a comment for sale
Offers in excess of £20,000 are invited for the purchase of UKBookWorld, together with its supporting websites and domain names,,, and ... more  Add a comment

Fill your house with books
That is the number one tip from bestselling Oxford author Philip Pullman on how to get your child reading. Mr Pullman, author of the award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy, was speaking to the Oxford Mail in support of the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign ... more  Add a comment

Fore-edge paintings
Discovering a fore-edge painting is always a pleasant surprise. When I first started my bookselling apprenticeship, it was one of the first things I was told to look out for (along with interesting bookplates, and ephemera tucked into the books) ... more  Add a comment

How are book jackets designed?
It is the first thing that catches your eye before you pick up a book in a shop or library, or click on the digital thumbnail online, but what is it that makes a great book cover? ... more  Add a comment

Bodleian buys 'significant' Gerard Manley Hopkins manuscript
A manuscript of "Binsey Poplars", Gerard Manley Hopkins's celebrated lament for the trees that ran along the Thames in the village of Binsey, has been bought at auction by the Bodleian Libraries for almost £50,000 ... more  Add a comment

First Enid Blyton exhibition opens
The first major exhibition of the life and work of author Enid Blyton is to open in Newcastle 45 years after her death. Blyton was one of Britain's most popular and prolific authors. She wrote more than 700 books which have sold more than 500 million copies around the world ... more  Add a comment

50 extraordinary contemporary first edition books
English PEN and Sotheby's announced First Editions, Second Thoughts (FEST), a ground-breaking auction in which 50 of the UK and Commonwealth's most outstanding contemporary writers have annotated, commented on and illustrated a first edition copy of one of their works ... more  Add a comment

'Breakfast At Tiffany's' Sells For $306K
Truman Capote's 1958 typed manuscript of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with the author's handwritten edits has sold for about $306,000 at auction to a Russian billionaire. The manuscript, expected to net at least $250,000, was offered for sale online by Amherst-based auction house RR Auction ... more  Add a comment