Auctions | April 11, 2014

Early Vampire Tale Leads at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auction

An adaptation of the French play by Charles Nodier, The Bride of the Isles, A Tale of the Vampire (1820) sold well above its estimate of £180-220 for £2,928 in Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ Bibliophile Sale, held yesterday Thursday 11th April.

The book is itself an adaptation of the extremely popular 1819 short story by Dr Polidori, Lord Byron's travelling doctor. It is said that the character of the protagonist vampire, Lord Ruthven, was based on the wild lifestyle of Lord Byron and the character from the original book was used in adaptations by a number of authors at the time. This English reworking for the stage was undertaken by James Robinson Planché (1796-1880), playwright and herald.  At least four other stage adaptations of the book were written during 1820.

Widely regarded as the exception to Planché's earlier unexceptional writing, The Vampire, or, The Bride of the Isles, created a stir at the Lyceum (then called the English Opera House) in August 1820. The play was heralded for its use of the innovative ‘Vampire trap’ which enabled the protagonist to emerge in a dream, and later disappear as the earth is destroyed. [Lot 252]

A first edition copy of Lord Byron’s Hebrew Melodies, seemingly inscribed by Anne Isabella Byron, also sold well. The book of songs set to Jewish music by Isaac Nathan contains lyrics written by Byron, as well as a book of poetry, also by Byron. The book is decorated on the preliminary blank forward with the inscription "With Lord & Lady Byron's best regards…,' followed by an ablated name and it sold for £1,159. [Lot 250]

A small selection of works by Sir Winston Spencer Churchill was highlighted by a first edition of the author’s first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898). The book was his first work of non-fiction to be published and details Churchill’s time serving in the 1897 military campaign on the Northwest Frontier, now a part of Pakistan. Churchill volunteered for the posting and served as a second lieutenant in the cavalry, where he was able to see first-hand the power of the new breech loading weapons being used by British troops.  It was this experience that unquestionably influenced his later decision to invest government finance in the research and funding for the tank during his time as First Lord of the Admiralty. This second state, complete with frontispiece and six maps sold for £1,342. [Lot 327]

Elsewhere in the sale, a 19-volume mixed first and second series set of Rudolph Ackermann’s The Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures, &c sold for £2,196. More commonly known as Ackermann’s Repository, the illustrated British periodical was published between 1809-1829 by the Anglo-German bookseller, inventor, lithographer and publisher. In its day the publication was known to be influential in defining English taste in fashion, architecture, and literature. [Lot 162]

The auction was held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions' Godalming saleroom on Thursday 10th April, and full prices realised can be found online at 


The full catalogue for this auction is available online.

Click here to view a fully illustrated online catalogue.

Click here to view a pdf of the sale catalogue.

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