11 Jul 2013

First novel by Beckett sold for £962,500

7:13 am on 11 July 2013

A manuscript of Irish author Samuel Beckett's first novel, Murphy, sold at auction in London on Wednesday for almost £1 million, according to auction house Sotheby's.

The University of Reading was the successful of two bidders vying for the manuscript that contains handwritten notes and substantially differs from the finished novel published in 1938.

The university paid £962,500 for the manuscript.

"This is unquestionably the most important manuscript of a complete novel by a modern British or Irish writer to appear at auction for many decades," said Peter Selley, Sotheby's senior specialist in books and manuscripts, in a statement.

"The manuscript is capable of redefining Beckett studies for many years to come."

The six notebooks of the manuscript contains multiple revisions, doodles, and sketches of James Joyce and Charlie Chaplin, both influences on Beckett's work.

It was written between August 1935- June 1936 whilst Beckett was undergoing psychoanalysis.

Born in Dublin in 1906, Beckett lived and worked for most of his life in Paris, wrote in French and English, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. He died in 1989.