'Most Elusive Prize in 20th-Century Literature' to Be Sold

JD Salinger signed copy of 'The Catcher in the Rye' with his childhood nickname
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2022 1:30 PM CDT
'Most Elusive Prize in 20th-Century Literature' to Be Sold
A1951 photo of JD Salinger taken by Lotte Jacobi and made available by The Lotte Jacobi Collection, University of New Hampshire.   (AP Photo/The Lotte Jacobi Collection, University of New Hampshire, Lotte Jacobi)

Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington Books, calls it the "perhaps the most elusive prize in 20th-century literature"—the only known copy of The Catcher in the Rye that JD Salinger signed with his childhood nickname, Sonny. The London bookseller is asking £225,000—$263,000—for the edition, which will go on sale later this week at a book fair with a "banned books" theme, the Guardian reports. "Auction records show only one appearance of an inscribed first edition," Harrington says. For decades, the 1951 novel was one of the books most often banned from American schools and libraries.

"The reasons for this owe much to JD Salinger’s notorious elusiveness," Harrington says. "Salinger was extremely private and shunned publicity in any form, particularly the use of any biographical material to promote his work." The inscription reads: "To Charles Kirtz with every good wish from JD Salinger (extra greetings to Ada and Victor from Sonny Salinger) New York 10/18/56," per Literary Hub.

Kirtz was the grandson of Ann Agoos, who lived in the same New York City apartment building as Salinger's parents. Because Salinger strongly disapproved of friends trying to cash in on his work, booksellers incorrectly expected a flood of signed copies to hit the market after his death in 2010, the Guardian notes. (More JD Salinger stories.)

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