Dozens of Records Set for Books by James Baldwin, P.G. Wodehouse, and Evelyn Waugh at Charlie Watts Sale


Brideshead Revisited. The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh went for £60,480

The Charlie Watts: Gentleman, Collector, Rolling Stone two-part sale of his Literature and Jazz collection ended with an overall total of £3,815,280. The sales comprised over 500 lots, with significant records set for more than 70 literary works, 15 authors, and a range of jazz memorabilia.  

“It has been a real privilege for Christie’s to offer Charlie Watts’s outstanding collection of literature and jazz to the world, opening a remarkable window into his lifelong passions," said Mark Wiltshire, Specialist, Books & Manuscripts at Christie’s.

Part I was led by a presentation copy of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, inscribed to "the original Gatsby", which sold for £226,800. This followed various world auction records including Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, Agatha Christie’s The Thirteen Problems and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. This was a fine pre-publication proof, one of 50 copies privately printed for distribution to the author’s friends, and a presentation copy, inscribed by Waugh to his close friend and wartime commander Robert Laycock ('For Bob, Commander of the Faithful, from Evelyn'). It sold for £60,480, beating the high estimate of £35,000.

Part II was led by A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse which sold for £21,420. Further records included the world record for a signed photograph of Josephine Baker (£13,860).

Other highlights included:

  • The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse, a 1923 first edition, first impression in the extremely rare dust jacket (sold for £6,930)
  • Simple Takes a Wife by Langston Hughes, a presentation copy of the 1953 first edition, inscribed by Hughes to Thurgood Marshall, America’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice (‘For Thurgood - My friend- Happy Birthday -‘I am equal, as you are, but separate we remain!’ Sincerely, Langston’). Sold for £8,820.
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin, a first edition of Baldwin's 1953 debut novel, inscribed by the author ‘For Gene, in admiration of his perseverance, Jimmy B’, which sold for £9,828