For many collectors of Irish 20th century literature, and indeed 20th century literature full stop, first and signed editions of James Joyce's work set their heart a flutter. Works by the Modernist avant-garde writer are a crucial part of the modernist movement in the 20th century literary canon.

Original Manuscript Page from Finnegan’s Wake Joyce (James) A Manuscript Page of text from Finnegan’s Wake, the opening of the Anna Livia Plurabelle section, 16 lines in Joyce’s hand beginning ‘Well; you know or don’t you kennert ..’, evidently a fair copy, on a single quarto sheet of grey-brown paper, signed at head ‘Paris / 6.iv.1930 / James Joyce’. In fine condition. (1) In a custom made green cloth perspex lined binder’s folder. Original Manuscript Page from Finnegan’s Wake Joyce (James) A Manuscript Page of text from Finnegan’s Wake, the opening of the Anna Livia Plurabelle section, 16 lines in Joyce’s hand beginning ‘Well; you know or don’t you kennert ..’, evidently a fair copy, on a single quarto sheet of grey-brown paper, signed at head ‘Paris / 6.iv.1930 / James Joyce’. In fine condition. (1) In a custom made green cloth perspex lined binder’s folder.

This manuscript on sale at Fonsie Mealy is from the opening sequence of Anna Livia Plurabelle from Finnegans Wake, a work which took the artist 17 years to complete. Estimated at £7 000-8 650 (€8 000 - 10 000) is one of the principal highlights of the sale.

James Joyce (centre) with Nora Barnacle James Joyce (centre) with Nora Barnacle

The piece of writing is a shining example of Joyce's great, radical vision. The complexity of Finnegans Wake, which Joyce wrote whilst suffering from various ailments, troubled his contemporaries and critics, who feared that he was losing touch with those readers in awe of the genius of Ulysses. The Anna Livia chapter was Joyce's melodic shot at winning over recalcitrant readers.

Another Joycean collectible is a rare recording of Joyce reading Anna Livia Plurabelle. Other important first editions of such Joyce classics as Chamber Music and the unforgettable Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will also be featured in the sale.

William Butler Yeats is represented in the sale with his first work Mosada. Only 500 copies were ever printed, of which very few can have survived in anything like the condition of the example at auction at Fonsie Mealy. Given that Mosada is nearly unobtainable, this is considered to be the foundation stone of any major Yeats collection.

Lady Gregory’s Copy Signed by W.B. Yeats Cuala Press: Yeats (W.B.) Poems Written in Discouragement, sm. square 8vo Dundrum 1913. Limited to 50 Copies Only. Sewn, 8pp, unopened orig. printed grey wrappers. Signed & inscribed on front cover, “Privately Printed, W.B. yeats. With Lady Gregory’s distinctive bookplate inside front cover. An exquisite Copy. (1) Provenance: From the Library of Mrs. Catherine Kennedy, ‘Nu,’ grand-daughter of Lady Gregory, daughter of Robert Gregory, the subject of W.B. Yeat’s Poem ‘An Irish Airman foresees his death’. Lady Gregory’s Copy Signed by W.B. Yeats Cuala Press: Yeats (W.B.) Poems Written in Discouragement, sm. square 8vo Dundrum 1913. Limited to 50 Copies Only. Sewn, 8pp, unopened orig. printed grey wrappers. Signed & inscribed on front cover, “Privately Printed, W.B. yeats. With Lady Gregory’s distinctive bookplate inside front cover. An exquisite Copy. (1) Provenance: From the Library of Mrs. Catherine Kennedy, ‘Nu,’ grand-daughter of Lady Gregory, daughter of Robert Gregory, the subject of W.B. Yeat’s Poem ‘An Irish Airman foresees his death’.

Lady Gregory’s personal copy of Yeats’ Poems written in discouragement, one of only 50 copies, will feature in the sale. This copy is rarer still as it is signed by Yeats himself, and even complete with Lady Gregory's bookplate.

Fonsie Mealy's Rare Books, Literature, & Sporting Collectibles sale will take place on 30th May, 2017. Check out the full catalogue here.

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