The Forester and Troughton-Smith Family Archive

A selection of items from The Forester and Troughton-Smith Family Archive

Toovey’s are pleased to announce that they have been instructed to offer at auction a unique archive chronicling the life and career of the author C.S. Forester. This exceptional collection offers a combination of books that belonged to Forester himself, books inscribed to his second wife, and books which he presented to his nephew. In addition to these books, the archive includes various material relating to C.S. Forester, including a bronze sculpture, documents, letters and some fascinating ephemera.

Much like his most famous literary creations, Forester was in a number of ways a contradictory character. Born in Egypt to English parents on 27 August 1899, Forester’s birth certificate gives his name as Cecil Louis Troughton Smith but he took up the nom de plume of Cecil Scott Forester when he started writing. Unusually, he then took the reinvention a stage further and used ‘C.S. Forester’ in his everyday as well as his literary life. Brought up in England, the product of the English Public school system, Forester chose to spend much of his working life in California but nevertheless found his greatest success with a book about an unlikely odd couple in Central Africa during the 1st World War (The African Queen), and a whole series about an English naval hero during the Napoleonic war (the story of Horatio Hornblower). The creator of an archetypal action hero, Forester was in contrast left a partial invalid in his forties as a result of arteriosclerosis. In 1961 he suffered a severe heart attack and was largely immobilized in 1964 after a stroke. He died in California on 2nd April 1966.

Forester married his first wife, Kathleen Belcher, in 1926. They had two children, John and George, but divorced in 1945. In 1947, he married Dorothy Ellen Foster; the marriage was initially kept secret and was not publicly acknowledged until February 1949. The couple continued to live in California until Forester’s death. They had remained close to Forester’s nephew Stephen Troughton-Smith, who viewed Forester as a father-like figure. Sometime after Forester’s death, Dorothy chose to move back to Sussex, England, to be closer to her family. Later, Dorothy was looked after by Stephen and his wife, who, when she became increasingly frail, moved in with her.

After Dorothy’s death on 10th June 1998, the books, sculpture and other important related items that her husband had given or bequeathed to her, together with the books that they had both been given by grateful publishers, were left to Stephen Troughton-Smith. Mr Troughton-Smith combined these books with the books that C.S Forester had inscribed to him and a few other related items to form the Forester and Troughton-Smith Family Archive. Stephen Troughton-Smith died earlier this year and a family decision was made to offer the contents of the archive to a wider audience and thus enhance C.S. Forester’s already solid reputation as one of the great British novelists of the 20th Century.

The archive will be offered for sale at Toovey’s Spring Gardens salerooms as part of their Antiquarian and Collectors’ Books auction on 21st February 2012, to view the free online auction catalogue click here.

Further images of the Forester and Troughton-Smith Family Archive:

(Please click on an image for full-view and again for further magnification)

Isambard Kingdom Brunel & The Great Eastern ABC

Great Eastern A.B.C., or Big Ship Alphabet Children's Book

Many regular followers of Toovey’s auctions will remember the remarkable single-owner collection, the Brunel Hawes Archive, offered for sale in November 2010. All items were entered by a descendant of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel. Sir Marc was an eminent engineer, but arguably overshadowed by his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The prices realised at the single-owner sale undoubtedly provided a market correction in values for items relating to the Brunel family at auction. With the accompanying national press attention after such a sale, some other Brunel-related material was entered by other vendors and successfully sold at Toovey’s Sussex auction house throughout 2011. This year looks set to be no different, with a very interesting children’s book already consigned and entered for the specialist Antiquarian and Collectors’ Book auction on 21st February. Titled The Great Eastern ABC, or, Big Ship Alphabet. Designed alike for the instruction of youth and the entertainment of all ages and conditions, the 16-page book (including the printed wrappers) is a surprising rarity, published just after the death by drowning of Captain Harrison on 21st January 1860.

It has 26 hand-coloured wood-engraved vignettes, one for each alphabetic couplet, including a pasted-over slip below a portrait of Harrison standing on deck, stating ‘H stood for poor Harrison – How sad was his fate! / It now stands for Hall, appointed of late’, perhaps making this charming book an unrecorded variant or second issue of an already scarce title. The original version published in time to be noted in ‘The Athenaeum Journal’ of 28th January 1860 and ‘The Economist’ of 14 January 1860, stated ‘H is for Harrison her skilful commander, / None can excel him (without any slander)’.

Every page in the book has delightful vignette illustrations but perhaps the most interesting from a collector’s point of view is a portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel above ‘B stands for Brunel that famed engineer, / With whom, it is said, arose the idea’. The children’s book is bound in the original printed thin card wrappers, the upper cover blocked with the title and integral vignette, the backstrip reinforced with 19th Century paper. The little book does have minor condition issues, including a little damp-staining, but for a paperback book of this age, intended for the use of children, it has survived in remarkably good condition. Perhaps this is the reason it is such a rarity, or perhaps it is because sales were poor as the boat’s subsequent ill-fated career proved to be a far from ideal example for young children. This is speculation, but Toovey’s have not been able to find another copy of the same title selling at auction in the last thirty years. This wonderful collector’s book will be offered at Toovey’s Washington salerooms with the potentially conservative pre-sale estimate of £1000-1500. (Please click on an image to make it larger, and again for further magnification)

Paul Scofield’s Books at Toovey’s Auction

TOOVEY’S specialist antiquarian & collectors’ book sale on May 17th 2011 includes part of the library of the late Paul Scofield, CH, CBE (1922-2008).  His fascinating library includes numerous volumes with presentation inscriptions to Paul and his wife Joy from the authors and his contemporaries.  Paul received an Academy Award and a BAFTA for his performance in the 1966 film ‘A Man for All Seasons’ and was a highly regarded actor on stage and screen.  Going under the gavel from his collection is a first edition copy of Marlene Dietrich’s ABC (Lot 3291) with a wonderful presentation inscription to Paul ‘Oh – how I wish I could write about you this morning! p.150 Marlene May 3. 1963’.  Page 150 in the book is an entry by her on Paul “I saw him at a time when most actors and stars affected the head-scratching, incoherent mumbling, embarrassed attitude on screen and stage… he had authority and elegance, he had perfect dictation…”.

Please click on images to see full version

Also included from the Scofield collection is a beautifully leather-bound 1943 version of the works of Shakespeare (Lot 3270).  The book was originally purchased from Truslove and Hanson, fashionable bookshops of the date operating in the West-End of London, this volume would have also been bound for them as they offered a bookbinding service.  What makes this copy so unique is a fascinating presentation inscription on the front-free endpaper ‘Terry L[ove] Chips’ dated November 2nd 1944.  ‘Terry’ refers to Terence Rattigan (1911-1977), a noted dramatist and friend and colleague of Scofield.  Numerous celebrations are planned for 2011 to mark the centenary of Rattigan’s birth.  ‘Chips’ refers to Henry “Chips” Channon (1897-1958), an American-born English politician and diarist, who had an affair with Rattigan.  This copy also has the bookplate of Terence Rattigan mounted on the inside cover.  Viewing for the sale is on Saturday 14 May 9.30 – 12.00, Monday 16th May 10.00 – 17.00, and on the sale day Tuesday 17th May 10.00 – 13.00 at Toovey’s Spring Gardens auction rooms, West Sussex.