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Library of Flashman creator Fraser to be sold at auction

MORE than 2500 books from the working library of Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser are to go on sale in London from next Monday.

The extensive collection includes many first editions of the Flashman novels written by the renowned former deputy editor of The Herald, as well as books by authors as diverse as Cicero, Dickens, Shaw, Zola, Aldous Huxley and Robert Louis Stevenson.

The range also extends to favoured childhood encyclopedias, books on Wat Tyler's insurrection, bound copies of Punch magazine, and a three-volume history of British boxing, published in Edinburgh in 1906. The latter was used as research material for Fraser's 1997 historical novel, Black Ajax, about a Virginia slave who found fame and fortune through boxing.

As the sale's organisers have noted, some of the volumes bear the stamp of The Herald's own library, while the many informal bookmarks used by the author include gas bills, car-insurance policies and even an old Glasgow tram ticket.

The sale will get under way at the celebrated Mayfair booksellers Heywood Hill on Monday, and will continue until July 31. The books have been on display since May 19.

The bookshop has been running a campaign, fronted by actor Dominic West, a Flashman enthusiast, to bring the writings of Fraser to a new generation.

The author died on the Isle of Man in January 2008, aged 82.

Nicky Dunne, chairman of Heywood Hill, said: "Mr Fraser was a longstanding customer here from 1969 onwards, when his first Flashman novel was about to be published. When his children decided to sell the vast majority of his own books, they chose us to find a good home for them.

"The books have been on view and there has been a great deal of interest in them, from people seeking something from his library."

Asked what the sizeable collection says about Fraser, Mr Dunne responded: "It says, I think, that he was a true reader who immersed himself in the fiction of the early 20th century, and the fiction that grew out of the British Empire in its heyday.

"What is also plain is his admiration for authors such as GA Henty and Rafael Sabatini, and other, rather forgotten authors who are pretty unfashionable now but who wrote with real energy and excitement about Boys' Own adventures which were, if you like, the romantic side of the British Empire.

"He loved his books, and you can tell how much he enjoyed them and how important they were to his style and the content of his own books, which were, after all, well-known for making history so enjoyable."

Mr Dunne smiled as he added: "There are also quite a few volumes which he either purloined from the Herald library or was lent on an extended basis."

The total sale price item of all the books in the catalogue is just in excess of £93,000.

Much of the advance interest has come from America, where Fraser's books are very popular.

www.heywoodhill.com

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