A rare edition of The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck’s epic 1939 tale of Depression-era poverty, sold at auction for $47,800 US, a newspaper reported yesterday.


A number of other first-edition copies of Steinbeck works were sold Sunday at an auction held by Bonhams & Butterfields.


A copy of Of Mice And Men sold for $7,768, East Of Eden for $8,365 and In Dubious Battle for $11,353, the Los Angeles Times reported.


The books were owned by the author’s sister, Elizabeth Steinbeck Ainsworth, who died in 1992. The Steinbeck family chose to sell the books to finance renovation of a Pacific Grove, Calif., bungalow where Steinbeck wrote some of his books, said Catherine Williamson, director of fine books and manuscripts for Bonhams.


The collection sold for more than $200,000.

Five of the Steinbeck titles were bought by Jim Dourgarian, a Bay Area antiquarian bookseller who specializes in Steinbeck’s work. His purchases included Cup Of Gold, which he called a relative bargain at $21,510.

“The fact that this was probably the last close family copy that is not in an institution made it highly desirable,” Dourgarian said. He said it also is valuable because Steinbeck inscribed it, and it is wrapped in a brightly coloured dust jacket showing a buccaneer.

Bonhams believes the price for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Grapes Of Wrath is the world record for an at-auction sale for a Steinbeck novel, Williamson said.

wrath fact

  • John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes Of Wrath in 1940.