A first edition of Gulliver’s Travels is one of the leading lots at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on 1 March 1. From a world-class collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century fantasy and scientific literature it is estimated at £20,000-30,000.
Jonathan Swift’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World … by Lemuel Gulliver, commonly known as Gulliver’s Travels, was published on 28 October 1726, selling out within two weeks. It has been popular ever since and is the most widely read work of 18th century English literature. Adapted many times for film, television and radio – and even opera – the stories of Gulliver’s travels to fantastical lands, including Lilliput and Brobdingnag, are famous throughout the world.
The collection was assembled during the 20th century by a French bibliophile. It has a strong emphasis on works which would now be classified as science fiction, although important scientific and philosophical writers such as Galileo and Descartes are also represented. Other highlights include:
- A first edition of Johannes Kepler’s very rare imaginary tale of a voyage to the moon – Somnium, seu opus posthumum de astronomia lunari. Divulgatum (A Dream: or, a Posthumous Work of Lunar Astronomy)– published posthumously in 1634, and estimated at £20,000-30,000. The book features an astonishingly accurate description of how the rest of the celestial system would look as seen from the moon.
- La découverte australe par un homme-volant, ou le Dédale francais by Restif de la Bretonne estimated at £4,000-6,000. This proto-science fiction Utopian novel is the account of the voyages to mythical lands by the hero, Victorin, in his flying machine made of cape-like wings of silk and a head-worn umbrella-device. It is illustrated with plates depicting the flying machine and the exotic tribes encountered by Victorin on his journey, including men-asses, men-frogs, men-snakes, men-elephants and men-lions.
- De la terre à la lune, trajet direct en 97 heures, by Jules Verne estimated at £800-1,000. A second edition of Verne’s classic From the Earth to the Moon of 1865 which drew on the latest scientific and technological knowledge to envisage a manned flight to the moon more than 100 years before it actually happened.