THE UNIVERSITY of Reading has paid nearly £1m for Samuel Beckett’s first major work – which went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London yesterday.
Handwritten in six exercise books and including a series of annotations and doodles by the esteemed scribe, the Irish writer’s novel Murphy fetched £962,500 at auction in the capital.
Penned between August 1935 and June 1936, the manuscript was initially entitled “Sasha Murphy”
It is heavily revised throughout, with the notebooks revealing a series of doodles, thought to reflect the author’s preoccupations during this period.
They include portraits of James Joyce, Beckett himself, and Charlie Chaplin.
As the centrepiece of Sotheby’s sale of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations this morning, the manuscript was estimated to realise £800,000 – £1.2 million.
Bidding began as speed but it was the ‘thrilled’ University of Reading who won the lot, which they will add their collection of 500 manuscripts.
Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor of the University, said: “It is important that world-renowned institutions such as the University of Reading can continue to fund access to knowledge and the best resources for researchers and students.
“The acquisition of Murphy will provide unparalleled opportunities to learn more about one of the greatest writers in living memory, if not all time.”