Thursday 8 December 2016

Internet 'cures' a bibliomaniac's 'gentle madness'

Published 10/07/2016 | 02:30

Classics: Harper Lee
Classics: Harper Lee

Collecting books was a "gentle madness", says Dr Philip Murray, a country doctor afflicted by bibliomania for 50 years.

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But his lifelong passion for reading and collecting brought him around the world, sparked fascinating correspondence with a host of literary greats and allowed him to build a library of international importance.

Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming

For decades, the now-retired GP from Sligo had no television in his home. Instead, he devoured books, especially prized first editions which, by various means including correspondence, chance meetings and by direct approach at home and abroad, he then got signed.

The Nen­agh native eventually ga­ve way and bought a TV. He was missing too many games of rugby - his other great passion.

On Tuesday, he will say goodbye to most of his prized collection. The Dr Philip Murray Collection of Modern First Editions sale, comprising over 550 lots, will take place in The Gresham Hotel in Dublin.

So why is he selling?

JK Rowling
JK Rowling

"Well, I'm 75 and I didn't really want to leave my family the considerable burden of having to sell them. It's taken me a long, long time to catalogue the collection.

"Secondly, I haven't actually collected anything new in the past few years because the internet has ruined everything. I used to love going to a foreign city and scouring the bookshops looking for little treasures. Now that can be done with a flick of the mouse on your computer. Where's the fun in that?"

He is selling over 2,000 books including Ernest Hemingway's, For Whom the Bell Tolls, published in 1940, as well as Arthur Miller's signed first edition of Death of a Salesman.

Seamus Heaney was a treasured friend and one of the 25 signed copies of Night Drive, along with one of only 10 copies of his manuscript of the poem, a very scarce item published in 1970 (est. €1,250-€1,500) will be sold.

A rare limited first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses, published in 1922 (est. €6,000-€8,000) and a signed Oscar Wilde poetry collection, published in 1892 (est. €1,250-€1,750).

Ian Fleming's Casino Royale with its striking black cloth and red heart design cover, published in 1953, could fetch fancy money. Some other titles by Fleming also included in the sale are Goldfinger, Moonraker, Live & Let Die, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds are Forever, all of which are first editions.

A school favourite up for auction is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, a rare signed first edition.

A series of first editions that should draw attention is JK Rowling's Harry Potter collection.

Viewing will take place today from 2pm-7pm, tomorrow from 10.30am-6.30pm and Tuesday from 10.30am-1pm. Full details can be found on www.fonsiemealy.ie

Sunday Independent

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