New Yorkers got a preview Wednesday of an auction rarity: A Nobel Prize for literature. The 1950 medal belonged to William Faulkner, one of America’s best-known and respected novelists. It comes with a hand-edited draft of Faulkner’s acceptance speech; together, auction house Sotheby’s expects those items to sell for $500,000 to $1 million.
Justin Caldwell, a specialist in books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, told the Associated Press that the auction house had begun speaking to Faulkner’s heirs in 2012 after an untitled, unpublished Faulkner short story was found among his literary papers at a family farm in Charlottesville, Va.
It’s a long list of Faulkner items that will be going up for auction June 11. There are 26 letters and postcards; some of the correspondence was sent from France to his family. In one letter, he drew a picture of himself to show his mother he’d grown a beard.
Some of the items had been in university museums, but had always been on loan from Faulkner’s family. Why the family decided to sell them now has not been revealed.
There are more than two dozen leather-bound copies of his work. Additionally, there are manuscripts of four stories -- “The Trapper Story,” “Vision in Spring,” “Mammy Callie” and “Hog Pawn” -- and the original, hand-bound poetry book he wrote for his wife, Estelle. When it was published publicly in 1984, it was from a photocopy.
“This auction is for people who are serious about modern literature,” Caldwell told the AP. “This is not something they are going to see very often ... this much Faulkner material in the same place.”