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Rare copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land among Oxfam finds to go under the hammer

Posted by Sophie Bowell

12th Jun 2013

T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

First UK edition of Eliot's famous poem expected to fetch up to £3,000 at auction

A rare first UK edition of The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot will be auctioned on 25 June at Bonhams after being donated to an Oxfam bookshop. The book, dating from 1923, was published by the Hogarth Press, a private press founded by Eliot's friends Leonard and Virginia Woolf, with the type thought to be hand-set by Virginia herself. It is an edition of about 460 copies and carries an estimated price tag of £2,000-£3,000.

The book was generously donated to the Turl Street, Oxfam bookshop in Oxford by Colin Cohen who was given the book by his relative. He said "It was bought by my great aunt Dorothy Samuel née Salaman. She was from a most remarkable family and was close friends with artists Augustus and Gwen John. She gave it to me as a teen as I was interested in printing and of course this was printed by Virginia and Leonard Woolf. I hope Oxfam get a good price for it."

Oxfam shop manager, David Sorrell said: "This is a wonderful item and we're so grateful to Mr Cohen for donating it to our shop. I'm sure it will attract lots of bids at the auction. The money raised will make an important contribution to Oxfam's work fighting poverty and helping people change their lives for the better."

Other highlights from this year's auction will include:

  • A collection of etchings of ancient and modern Rome by Guiseppe Vasi, estimated at £3,000-£5,000, which was donated to Oxfam's bookshop in Stratford Upon Avon
  • A first edition of Irish author J. G. Farrell's Troubles valued at £600-£800 and donated to Oxfam's Winchester bookshop
  • Two Japanese photo albums with photos by Kozaburo Tamamura and Felice Beata. Together they are valued at £1,300-£1,900 and were donated to Oxfam's Bridport bookshop.

All the items will go under the hammer on Tuesday 25 June at Bonhams' auction house in Oxford with proceeds going to support Oxfam's life saving projects around the world. There are 27 Oxfam books in the sale with an overall value estimated at £13,800-£20,500. The auction is open to the public but prospective bidders will need to register their details online beforehand. 

Jackie Whitaker from Oxfam Valued said: "The range of books on sale for Oxfam demonstrates the generosity of supporters who give high value donations that make a significant contribution to Oxfam's work.  We try hard to raise as much money as possible from every donation."

Last year the Bonhams auction raised a total of just over £21,000 for Oxfam with the highlight being a rare first edition of Samuel Beckett's debut novel Murphy which sold for £12,000. 

For more information about the auction go to

Blog post written by Sophie Bowell

More by Sophie Bowell