Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    One of 100 Privately Printed Copies-This Copy with the Original Autograph Manuscript and Two Autograph Letters Signed by Augustine Birrell Bound In

    A[ugustine] B[irrell]. Aphorisms on Authors and Their Ways; with Some General Observations on the Humours, Habits, and Methods of Composition of Poets-Good, Bad, and Indifferent. Diligently Collected from Johnson's "Lives" by A. B. [N.p.]: "One Hundred Copies Privately Printed" [by Eyre and Spottiswoode], 1917.

    One of 100 privately printed copies. Quarto (9.9375 x 7.5625 inches; 254 x 192 mm.). 60, [4, blank] pages.

    Contemporary half navy blue levant morocco over cream-colored marbled paper boards. Spine lettered in gilt with five raised bands. Top edge gilt, others uncut. Marbled endpapers. Light rubbing to extremities. Minimal foxing to fore-edge. Bookplate of Clement K. Shorter on front pastedown.

    Bound in at the end is the original Autograph Manuscript, consisting of 8 numbered leaves of "Contents" written in pencil on rectos only (8.8125 x 6.125 inches; 224 x 168 mm.), [1] leaf containing the title-page on the verso and instructions on the recto, headed "Private," and dated "Oct 11. 1917," the entire page crossed out, and [42] leaves of text. Written in black ink primarily on the rectos of ruled paper (9.0625 x 6.9375 inches; 230 x 176 mm.).

    "Private / I should like these Extracts to be made in / to a little book privately printed & distributed / to the Friends-a list of whom appears in [crossed out] at / the end of a corresponding note book to this- / As to the Format-it is my wish a small / Quarto. like the Kings Classics (Morings[?]) of / which I have Fitzgeralds Polonius in the library-or better perhaps a duodecimo-in plain, hard, clean, Boards with / labels on [crossed out] (in white) on back & front. / As to the Printer. Shorter might be / Considered or Mr. Humphrys [sic] of Hatchards / 100 copies will be the outside wanted / A B / The Pightle / Sheringham / Oct 11. 1917."

    In addition, bound in at the front are two Autograph Letters Signed (with initials) by Augustine Birrell to his close friend and collaborator, Clement K. Shorter.

    The first letter is one quarto page (approximately 9.875 x 7.5 inches; 252 x 190 mm.), writtten in black ink on the recto only of Birrell's "70, Elm Park Road, Chelsea, S.W." letterhead (at left: "1098 Western."): "Dec. 20. 17 / My dear Shorter- / If you pursue your mad prospect / of 'Large Paper' Copies note the following / Corrigenda / [list of seven corrections] / It might have been & perhaps is Worse. / Thine A B." Some light foxing and browning. Creases visible. With a pencil annotation at foot: "P 212."

    The second letter is two quarto pages (8.75 x 6.625 inches; 222 x 168 mm.), written in black ink on the recto and verso of Birrell's "Sheringham, Norfolk" letterhead: "Jan. 2. 1918. / My dear Shorter- / A Happy New Year- / A new Error of the Press. on / that unlucky page 22! There is / only one l in Somervile-These / Blunders are all my fault & the / Compositor, that damned / 'Cream-faced loon'-With the / 'Goose Look' who would have it / that Macheath should be Macbeth / I think now the List of Corrigenda / is complete, but I daresay if your / large paper copies are / Entrusted to the same Compositor / new ones will arise, if indeed he / does not return to his Macbeth-like / the dog he is. / This little Volume seems / to have given pleasure to a few of / my friends if so-it has [furthered?] / its [?] & may sink into oblivion / Yours A B / I will be here until the 16th." Creases visible.

    All manuscript leaves mounted on guards.

    Augustine Birrell (1850-1933), politician, lawyer, and author, son-in-law of poet Frederick Locker-Lampson, was the longest serving Chief Secretary for Ireland (from 1907 to 1916). "He also acquired a considerable reputation as an essayist and literary critic, especially with his two small volumes of Obiter dicta (1884, 1887), which aimed to remind his readers 'of books they once had by heart, and of authors they must ever love' (Obiter dicta, 2nd ser., 1896, vi). His witty and elegant essays on writers he admired, such as Milton, Pope, Carlyle, and Dr Johnson, revealed his passion for literature and his intellectual versatility. He had collected more than 10,000 books for his library by the time he was fifty, observing in his essay 'Book-buying' that 'the man who has a library of his own collection is able to contemplate himself objectively' (Obiter dicta, 2nd ser., 1896, 264)...In dictionaries of quotations some of his witty epigrams achieved fame as 'Birrellisms'" (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online).

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    16th-18th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 840

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2019 November 2 Lincoln and His Times Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    This was my first time dealing with an auction house, and I am 100% completely impressed with Heritage. There is not an aspect of this process that I have a critique for.
    Darryl S.,
    Stuart, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 June 22 - 23 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Presidential &  Political Americana, Part V - Dallas
    2019 June 22 - 23 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Presidential & Political Americana, Part V - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $744,706