Books are good. Signed books are better. But books signed by the author who have also added a self-portrait might be the best of all. These self-portraits vary from a quick sketch to a detailed drawing. Books containing these literary selfies are relatively hard to find - after all, authors are usually people of words rather than art....

The man who knew the most about author self-portraits was Burt Britton, an avid book collector who founded Books & Co - an iconic bookshop in New York that operated from 1977 to 1997. Britton requested and received self-portraits by authors but also musicians, sports stars and other well-known people. Britton's first self-portrait was provided by author Norman Mailer whom he met while working as a bartender at Village Vanguard in New York.

Random House eventually published Britton's amazing collection of hundreds of self-portraits in a book called Self-Portrait: Book People Picture Themselves. Woody Allen, Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Anthony Burgess, Truman Capote, Roald Dahl, Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, Edward Gorey, Joseph Heller, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Paul Theroux are just handful of the people to have supplied self-portraits that appear in the book.

Another book featuring author self-portraits is Who's Writing This? Notations on the Authorial I With Self-Portraits by Daniel Halpern, which contains numerous text and drawings from writers as they consider themselves. Jim Harrison, Edna O'Brien, James Salter and Susan Sontag are among the contributors.

13 Literary Self-Portraits

Whose self-portrait would you like to own?

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