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Kipling's rare book to be auctioned

Schoolboy Lyrics, Kipling's first India-published book,is expected to fetch up to 3,000 pounds at an auction in Britain.

world Updated: Mar 19, 2007 16:38 IST

An inscribed copy of the "exceptionally rare" first book by Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling is expected to fetch up to 3,000 pounds when it is auctioned in London later this month.

Schoolboy Lyrics was published in 1881 in India by Kipling's parents without Kipling's knowledge while he was in England and still only 16.

Experts believe that the book is particularly rare and valuable because it is thought that only around 50 copies were produced. The copy up for sale is inscribed by Kipling and also once belonged to his sister Alice. It is being sold with a handwritten letter about the book from Kipling.

Luke Batterham, an antiquarian books expert at auctioneers Bonhams, who is selling this Kipling gem in London, on March 27, told the Kent and Sussex Courier that it is unknown exactly how many copies were printed. But it is thought that it was in the region of 50 copies. It does not say the limitation in the book. I do not know how many survived.

"None have been sold at auction since 1992 and seven are recorded as being sold before that, at prices varying from 1,000-7,000 pounds, the more expensive having an original watercolour on the cover," he said.

"Obviously most were given to friends and family and the inscription or notes make a difference to the price."

The handwritten words "Schoolboy Lyrics, Rudyard Kipling" are featured in the copy up for sale at Bonhams and Kipling expert David Alan Richards believes that this is the author's handwriting.

The Dictionary of National Biography says about the book, "Though it was produced without Kipling's knowledge and though he was embarrassed by it then and afterwards, the book is technically Kipling's first."