Patrick O'Brian's Autograph Manuscript Draft for the Final Incomplete Aubrey-Maturin Novel: Rare Book of the Week


The unfinished draft of the 21st Aubrey book

Patrick O'Brian's autograph manuscript draft for chapters I and II of 'XXI', the 21st and last, incomplete, Aubrey-Maturin novel, is the first in our new regular series 'Rare Book of the Week'.

It comes up for auction at Christie's on July 10 in its Valuable Books and Manuscripts sale with accompanying autograph outlines for the work, with an estimate of £10,000 - £15,000.

The heavily corrected drafts by O'Brian (1914-2000) in black and occasionally blue ink run to 47 leaves, with text on rectos and occasional sentences and notes on facing verso. They date back to early May - December 1999, including details on 26 November when, writing at Trinity College Dublin, he appears to have mislaid his draft for chapter III.

The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey was published posthumously in 2004, based on the partially corrected typescript of the three chapters completed by O'Brian, followed by a facsimile of the autograph continuation. It included an Editor's Note by Starling Lawrence and an Afterword by Richard Snow, with a foreword by politician Lord Waldegrave in the UK edition. Jounalist and critic Charles McGrath described it in the New York Times as "a keepsake, a souvenir, for those diehards who have already made the whole 6,443-page journey and want one last look at Jack and Stephen as they embark on yet another mission".