Two letters written by Mahatma Gandhi, including one to Rabindranath Tagore’s eldest brother Dwijendranath, will go under the hammer next month at a Sotheby’s auction here.

The letters and a rare copy of the Indian Constitution will be among nearly 200 lots on offer at the sale of English Literature, History, and Children’s Books & Illustrations on December 12.

In 1922, after being lodged in Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad, Gandhi wrote an autograph letter to Dwijendranath rejoicing that his incarceration has come at a time when he felt fully prepared and expressing joy that “India’s wonderful calm at this moment is significant of her strength”.

Gandhi asked Dwijendranath to send messages of support to Young India in the two-page letter, written in pencil. It has an estimate of 5,000-7,000 pounds.

In the other letter, with an estimate of 3,000-4,000 pounds, Gandhi sends condolences to an unknown friend in 1922 on hearing from Charlie (Andrews) of the death of his or her mother, but asking “should not birth and death be the same though”.

The limited first edition of the Constitution on stiff Whatman paper is signed by President Rajendra Prasad in English and Devnagari on the authentication page and also by Jawaharlal Nehru and dated 1950 on the front free end papers.

It has an estimate of 4,000-5,000 pounds.

The sale will offer Sotheby’s regular combination of history, English literature, popular culture, children’s books and original book illustrations.

Literary highlights include a second Shakespeare folio, a first edition of “Gulliver’s Travels” in contemporary calf, a presentation copy of “Emma”, a copy of “Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte” including six autograph letters by Bronte, the autograph manuscript of Colin Dexter’s “Last Bus to Woodstock” and Virginia Woolf’s engagement diaries.

There is a rich Ian Fleming section including a typescript of “Diamonds are Forever” and the Walther gun used by Sean Connery in publicity shots for four Bond films, while a remarkable series of passionate and thoughtful love letters from Mick Jagger to Marsha Hunt evoke the cultural and social revolution of the summer of 1969.

(This article was published on November 18, 2012)
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