Christie’s Press Release: First Editions, Second Thoughts

LONDON, June 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Christie’s announces First Editions, Second Thoughts: An Auction to Benefit English PEN, a landmark literary auction taking place online from 28 June – 12 July comprising First Edition books and works of art from contemporary artists and authors, each of which has been uniquely annotated, illustrated or added to by their creator.

Book Covers from the First Editions, Second Thoughts: An Auction to Benefit English PEN, a landmark literary auction taking place online from 28 June - 12 July comprising First Edition books and works of art from contemporary artists and authors, each of which has been uniquely annotated, illustrated or added to by their creator.

Book Covers from the First Editions, Second Thoughts: An Auction to Benefit English PEN, a landmark literary auction taking place online from 28 June – 12 July comprising First Edition books and works of art from contemporary artists and authors, each of which has been uniquely annotated, illustrated or added to by their creator.

First Editions, Second Thoughts (FEST) will raise much needed funds to support English PEN’s work to defend free expression and campaign for writers who are at risk. The sale comprises over 80 annotated First Edition books by internationally renowned writers, including work by Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel, Salman Rushdie, John le Carré, Sebastian Faulks, Ben Okri, Ian McEwan, Bernardine Evaristo, and Philippe Sands. Art works from highly esteemed artists Anish Kapoor, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Ai Weiwei and Edmund de Waal are included in the auction.

Hilary Mantels heavily annotated first editions of ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ and ‘The Mirror and the Light’ from her acclaimed Wolf Hall trilogy are both offered in the auction. Since it was established in 1969, only four writers, J.M. Coetzee, Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel, have won The Booker Prize twice. First editions annotated by these four authors are offered in the auction.

Each of the First Edition books is annotated by hand, a unique record of the author’s response to their own work. Hilary Mantel comments on the experience: The process of publication (however welcome and necessary) is a process of estrangement. Annotation gives your book back to you, but presents it multiplied. It rescues you from finished product, returns you to process. It gives form to the sub-voce commentary that accompanies every session of work: ‘I could…but I won’t…and yet I could try…’. A special kind of memory comes into play – how you were when such a phrase arrived, where you were: the way the light fell into the room. It’s a creative process as much as a re-creative one. Sentences struggle and twist again under your hand. Things you might have said, and the various ways you might have said them, swim back into your consciousness. You realise, if you didn’t know it already, that there’s another book behind the book, and behind that, a series of shadow volumes, stretching back to infancy, before you could write at all’.

English PEN, one of the world’s oldest human rights organisations, champions the freedom to write and the freedom to read around the world, and is the founding centre of PEN International, a worldwide writers’ association with 145 centres in more than 100 countries.

A selection of Auction Highlights include:

Monica Ali, Brick Lane. 
London: Doubleday, 2003.

An extraordinary first edition, signed on the title page and extensively annotated by the author across 79 pages with over 1000 words of commentary. Monica Ali’s insightful commentary pays close attention to the text, often highlighting what pleases, shocks or surprises her in her language choices, and pointing to key moments in the narrative.
(Estimate £1,500-2,000).

Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid’s Tale. 
London: Jonathan Cape, 1986.

First UK edition of Atwood’s most celebrated work, extensively annotated by the author across 161 pages, with 1,137 words. 
(Estimate £4,000–6,000).

Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other.
London: Hamish Hamilton, 2019.

A delightfully personal first edition, signed and annotated by the author with insightful notes on her influences and an account of the career-changing success of this Booker Prize winning novel. The final annotation is a charming summary of the novel’s success: ‘This book has revolutionised my career!’.
(Estimate £1,500-2,000).

John le Carré, (1931-2020). The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
London: Victor Gollancz, 1963.

First edition, part-annotated with the author’s unfinished final reflections on his best-known work. The author passed away having annotated only the opening 45 pages of the book for the auction. 
(Estimate £8,000-12,000).

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children.
London: Jonathan Cape, 1981.

‘I had no idea that it would change my life’: first British edition, signed by the author and with a fine inscription relating to the novel’s enduring popularity and ‘the real prizes of Literature’. 
(Estimate £4,000-6,000).

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
London: Jonathan Cape, 2003.

First edition of a unique mystery novel, copiously annotated and illustrated by the author. The interventions in this copy are vivid, inventive, humorous, and generous in number and in spirit. Haddon’s notes, in ink or coloured pencils, wind around the margins like fireworks. 
(Estimate £2,000-3,000).

Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies. London: Fourth Estate, 2012.

First edition of the Booker Prize-winning novel, signed and abundantly annotated by the author with 4753 words of commentary across 179 pages. Her notes are acutely personal, offering a striking sense of the author’s profound emotional attachment to the stories being told.
(Estimate £4,000-6,000).

Edmund de Waal, Letters to Camondo.
London: Chatto & Windus, 2021.

Annotated first edition, with accompanying porcelain tile, of a sequence of imagined letters to art collector Count Moïse de Camondo.  
(Estimate £3,000-5,000).

Ian McEwan, Atonement.
London: Jonathan Cape, 2001.

An exceptional first edition of Atonement, annotated by the author with over 4000 words of commentary His notes frequently point to his sources – both in personal experiences and in more formal research – and to such literary influences as Henry James and Virginia Woolf.
(Estimate £4,000-6,000).

Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers.
London: Faber & Faber, 2015.

First edition, copiously annotated and illustrated by the author, his annotations appear on almost every page of the book and relate to the literary influences that shaped him (‘This page shows what I’m made of […] I’m made of what I’ve read’), his writing process (‘I always start writing by drawing’), his thoughts about criticism (‘Critics will wilfully misunderstand things’) and setbacks (‘Someone told me to “go away and write a proper book”).
(Estimate £1,500-2,000).

Philippe Sands, President, English PEN, and professor of law at University College London, comments, ‘It is thrilling to embark on a First Editions, Second Thoughts auction with Christie’s. I am truly delighted to join such illustrious names with an annotated edition of East West Street, whose focus on international crimes assumes particular resonance in the face of the crime of aggression that is being perpetrated by Russia against Ukraine. Here, in the UK, and around the world, the rule of law is more important than ever, as intolerance, division, and threats to freedom of expression are on the rise. Today, the work of English PEN is more important and relevant than ever, and this wonderful auction will help in its vital work.’

Margaret Ford, Christie’s International Head of Books & Manuscripts comments, ‘Christie’s is delighted to support the important work of English PEN by presenting an extraordinary array of literary masterpieces at auction. These works, uniquely annotated by their authors for the auction, offer new insights into the work, life and career of some of the most important writers of our generation. As such, they are “copies of record” which will excite collectors, readers and literary enthusiasts around the globe.’

Daniel Gorman, Director, English PEN, comments, ‘It is an honour to partner with Christie’s for this auction to benefit English PEN, as we continue the increasingly urgent and vital work of campaigning for writers at risk, and for freedom of expression in the UK and across the world. We are hugely grateful to the contributors, some of the most well-known and well-loved authors and artists of our time, who have generously looked back and annotated some of their finest work.’

Mark Wiltshire, Specialist, Books and Manuscripts and Head of Sale comments, ‘It is a great privilege to handle the sale of these extraordinary books in support of English PEN. The authors’ annotations are personal, profound, insightful, and frequently surprising, adding a unique layer of intimacy to some of the most celebrated texts published in our lifetime. To read them is to feel incredibly close to the process of creation. I anticipate strong interest from collectors and institutions from around the world.’

Estimates range from £1,000 to £20,000 and bidding on most lots will start from £100.

A selection of lots from First Editions, Second Thoughts: An Auction to Benefit English PEN will be on view and exhibition from 6 – 15 June within The Art of Literature: Auction Highlights Exhibition taking place at Christie’s headquarters in St James’s, London, as part of London Now. Please see for timings.

All lots in the First Editions, Second Thoughts auction will also be on view and open to the public in a standalone exhibition from 8 – 11 July at Christie’s.

Christies and English PEN are delighted to be hosting a series of events open to the public, as follows:


3 July 2022 10.30am 
First Editions, Second Thoughts

Writers return to their work and record their thoughts by hand in a First Edition. Elif Shafak invites Anne Enright (The Green Road), Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China), David Nicholls (One Day), Sarah Waters (Tipping the Velvet) and Tracy Chevalier (Girl With a Pearl Earring) to discuss their second thoughts.

9 July 2022 10.30am 
Philippe Sands – East West Street: Lviv 1945/2022

Human rights lawyer and President of English PEN Philippe Sands reflects on past and current events in Ukraine, free expression and writing, in his own work and across the world. Chaired by Claire Armistead.

To book your place at the above events where numbers are limited please go to and apply via the following link click here.

To learn more about the work of English PEN please click here.

Please see the link here to access drop box images of the works illustrated along with a list of the authors, artists and their First Edition or work of art within the auction.

Please credit ©Christie’s Images 2022 for all imagery.

About English PEN

Founded in 1921, English PEN is one of the world’s oldest human rights organisations, championing the freedom to write and read. We are the founding centre of PEN International, a worldwide writers’ association with 145 centres in more than 100 countries. With the support of our members – a community of readers, writers and activists – we protect freedom of expression whenever it is under attack, support writers facing persecution around the world, and celebrate contemporary international writing with literary prizes, grants, events, and our online magazine PEN Transmissions.

English PEN’s work is made possible through core funding from Arts Council England and the TS Eliot Foundation alongside the support of members, project partners and Silver PEN partners.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single charitable collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats.

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps.
The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.

*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price – see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue. 
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.

Images available on request. 
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Charlotte Brown
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