Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

First edition Orwell book sells for 86,000

Down And Out In Paris And London
Auctioneers said the book was in mint condition

A rare signed first edition of George Orwell's first full-length work has sold for £86,000 at auction.

The immaculate copy of Down And Out In Paris And London - complete with dust jacket - had a pre-sale guide price of £2,500-£3,500.

The book was purchased by a private client at Gorringes Auction House in Lewes, East Sussex.

Aaron Dean, book specialist at the auction house, said: "I would be shocked if it isn't a record."

Inside the book, Orwell - whose real name was Eric Blair - wrote to his agent Leonard Moore: "With the author's kind regards, to Mr LP Moore without whose kind assistance this book would never have been published. Eric Blair, 24.12.32."

Including the buyers premium, the book sold for a total of £101,050.

Mr Dean added: "The two things that were rare about this were that it was personally inscribed by the author with a nice little ditty.

I was absolutely stunned, the room was absolutely stunned and the vendors, who were in the room, were thoroughly happy
Aaron Dean, auctioneer

"Secondly, it had its dust jacket. No first editions of this book with dust jackets have been seen for 27 years.

"To put the significance of that in perspective, last year a copy which was not in great condition and didn't have a dust jacket sold for £13,200.

"This one was an absolutely brilliant copy. The dust jacket had a little bit of wear and tear but, when you took it off, the book was in mint condition."

Mr Dean said there was strong bidding, with 10 people on the telephone, and it was bought by a man in the room.

He said: "I opened the bidding at £5,000 and someone immediately jumped in to take it to £15,000 and from there it bounced up to £86,000.

"I knew it would do well, I had a lot people who were hugely interested in it and the consensus was that it would reach somewhere between £30,000 and £40,000.

"But I wasn't expecting that price. I was absolutely stunned, the room was absolutely stunned and the vendors, who were in the room, were thoroughly happy."

Down And Out In Paris And London is an autobiographical work by Orwell, split into two parts, on the theme of poverty in the two capital cities.

It was published in January 1933 by Victor Gollancz, after being rejected by two other major publishers.

Orwell, who died in 1950, went on to write two of the 20th century's most famous novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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