Even during national poetry month, we all to often hear there is little demand for poetry from today’s readers. But in the world of rare books, poets are revered by bibliophiles and collectors, and AbeBooks regularly sells examples of their finest work for four-figure prices. T.S. Eliot, Wilfred Owen, Charles Bukowski, Robert Frost and many other famous poetic names from the 20th century are in steady demand, while Robert Burns, William Blake, Lord Bryon, John Keats and William Wordsworth ensure 19th century poetry is not forgotten. And then there is Shakespeare and the two Johns – Milton and Donne.
From haikus to epics, from limericks to sonnets, from strict rhyme schemes to free verse, poetry is a vast genre covering countless subjects. Dip into the world of collectible poetry and also discover the 10 most expensive poetry books ever sold by AbeBooks.
Fantastic First Editions
AbeBooks' Top 10 Most Expensive Poetry Sales
1. = Poems, 1909 - 1925
Sold for: $8,500
First edition, one of 85 copies numbered and signed by Eliot. The limited edition has a plain cream buckram binding and contains many of the poet's canonical works. Pictured is the general 1925 first edition which is not signed.
Sold for: $8,460
First edition with an introduction by fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon. Included in this copy was a note by Miss M.M.C. Rayner, who tutored Owen.
4. The New Creatures
Sold for: $7,500
A limited edition of poetry - one of two self-published books from the lead singer of The Doors that had just 100 copies of each.
6. Selected Poems
Sold for: $6,050
First edition, limited to 100 copies, signed by Pound and hand numbered (this was No.3). The poems were selected and edited by T.S Eliot to be published in 1928.
7. Divina Commedia
Sold for: $6,000
First edition of the first translation of Dante's Divine Comedy into English. Also contains preliminary essays and notes by the Reverend Henry Boyd.
Sold for: $5,866
Charles of Valois (1394-1465) became the Duke of Orléans in 1407 but is best remembered for writing poetry as a prisoner of war. This book of his poetry was published in 1950 as a limited edition with 100 original lithographs by Matisse, only 1,230 copies were printed.
10. The Collected Poems
Sold for: $4,893
A limited first edition, one of 100 numbered copies signed by Lawrence. This 1928 two-volume collection comes with a cream dust jacket that is especially prone to wear making fine copies highly desirable. (The 1932 UK first edition is pictured)