The blog of author Dennis Cooper

10 literary autographs and their current market value *

* (restored)


Dodgson, Charles (1832 – 1898)
A four-page autograph letter signed “Lewis Carroll”, 12th August 1879. Written to “Mabel” [Burton], making reference to mistaken gender and identity. Written on one folded sheet of paper. Dodgson states that he was “puzzled… the other day at the Langham Hall…” The recipient of the letter was wearing “a funny sort of cap” and Dodgson therefore took her for a boy. Dodgson continues, “if only your face had been a little longer, and not quite so rosy, you would have been Ernest Nicholls…” and then lists the physical attributes of Master Nicholls concluding “…altogether, it would have been very awkward if your face had been half-an-inch longer: I’m glad it wasn’t as I would have died of love.” Dodgson then asks the recipient to come to Eastbourne. He states “…it is so lovely here. And I would speak to you, once a month or so – so that you wouldn’t be really dull for want of company…” Very slight spotting at the folds, otherwise in very fine condition.  Price: £3,750.00



Capote, Truman (1924 – 1984)
53/4×41/4. Villa Meltemi, Greece, 1958. On left message side of verso of picture postcard depicting Paros, Greece. Addressed by Capote to John Dapper, Brooklyn, New York. In full: “I am expecting a very large package from California (maybe it will come from Mexico); it is being sent in care of you. When it comes, could you just put it downstairs in the apartment? Bless you. If you and Lyman are still planning to travel this autumn, strongly recommend you come here rather than Sicily. This (sic) perfect. Love to both.” Two stamps picturing the King and Queen of Greece affixed at upper right and postmarked. Slightly soiled, a little worn at corners, else fine condition.  This item comes with a curious supplemental note handwritten by John Dapper to the postcard’s previous owner, stating that the package Capote was expecting contained a large quantity of cocaine.  Price: £2,299.00



Maugham, W. Somerset (1874 – 1965)
A good two-page autograph letter signed by Somerset Maugham. The author writes on Ritz-Carlton Hotel headed paper to a Mr. Dale. In part, “Thank you for sending me the book of clippings. Granted I am stinking drunk, but I found it very interesting and I was amused at my grandfather’s beautiful copper plate writing. No one knows how to write to beautifully as that now.” In very fine condition.  Price: £175.00



Greene, Graham (1904 – 1991)
A foundation subscription form for the new magazine ‘New Stories’ (1934) filled out by Graham Greene with his name and address. The author goes on to list thirty four names (front and back of the form) of those individuals that might be interested in receiving the magazine’s circulars. The names listed by Greene include such illuminaries as Ottlilie Morrell, Mrs. Julian Huxley, Lady Balfour and H.S. Ede. In very fine condition with a light horizontal mailing fold. An interesting item.  Price: £325.00



Borges, Jorge Luis (1899 – 1986)
A rare typed letter signed by Borges, July 12th 1956. The author writes on headed paper for the ‘Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires’ to his fellow author Bernardo Canal Feijoo to chastise him for the pathetic conference he took part in at the library. He goes on to mention the inane comments that have been made about his colleagues contribution and thanks him sarcastically for getting involved with the library’s cultural work. Signed boldly in ballpoint pen. In very fine condition.  Price: £595.00



Beckett, Samuel (1906 – 1989)
An excellent signed 6″ X 4″ head and shoulders portrait by Samuel Beckett. A nice matte-finish image of the author, signed boldly to the lower border in ink. In very fine condition. On the back, Beckett has written in an agitated hand, “Kill me. Go on, sir, kill me. I would rather you kill me than look upon me with your ugly pig’s eyes for a moment longer. Remove yourself from me. Take your ridiculous picture.” Quite scarce in this format.  Price: £1395.00



Cocteau, Jean (1889 – 1963)
A superb and rare signed and inscribed 7.5″ X 10″ photograph. Cocteau is shown apparently rehearsing on stage with a burning cigarette in his left hand. Signed in fountain pen ink to the lower border, “To Claude Labarre – the wonderful era of Monsters! The monsters have changed! Jean Cocteau”). Cocteau clearly makes reference here to his work ‘Les Monstres Sacrés’ which he wrote in 1939. In very fine condition. A wonderful item. Signed photographs of Cocteau are rare. Original Price: £1,250.00 Reduced to: £1,000.00



Mishima, Yukio (1925 – 1970)
A fascinating two-page handwritten letter signed by Yukio Mishima to feminist author Dominique Aury, 28th March 1970, two separate sheets of paper in fountain pen ink. Some interesting insights into Mishima’s inspiration to write and, penned just eight months before Mishima’s suicide, the letter sheds interesting light on the author’s state of mind. He wirtes, “For writing, I always need some balance between the critical moment of the society and the essential uneasiness in my mind, but the present Japan seems to me not likely in a ideal circumstances to make me write, since the social crisis is likely already solved and becoming too quiet. My novel can reach the highest tension when I feel my inner bomb and the outside bomb has a critical balance. I don’t intend to assassinate anybody, on the other hand, I have no possibility to be assassinated, since nobody considers me worthy to be assassinated!” A superb and important letter in very fine condition. Original Price: £3,250.00 Reduced to: £2,762.50



Wilde, Oscar (1854 – 1900)
A superb one-page autograph working draft of a section from an essay on artistic processes. Written in ink with several corrections and insertions. A small tear to the bottom and some slight creasing, otherwise in very fine condition. A pencil note at the top, “Wilde (par André Gide)” would indicate that this item may have at some time been in the possession of Gide. Original Price: £5,750.00 Reduced to: £4,887.50




Burroughs, Willam S. (1914 – 1997)

A rare signed 9.5″ X 7″ close-up portrait by William S. Burroughs. Boldly signed by the author to the lower border in ballpoint pen. On the back, he has written in the same ballpoint pen the cryptic phrase, “Screw your son.”  He adds the day, 23rd May 1997. In very fine condition.  Price: £225.00




p.s. Hey. ** Jeffrey Coleman, Yes, I do. As far as I know. Other locals … I think most can see them, and some can’t sometimes. Weirdness. Cool, yeah, come back whenev’, man. ** David Ehrenstein, And few things are happier than a successful amusement park! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. Yeah, I honestly think that whole Disney parks maintenance report is an accidental great epic poem, and, yeah, I sometimes think the escort and slaves texts are too, except less epic. ** Misanthrope, If you trolled amusement park geek sites like I do, you’d see that yesterday’s post is in fact cookie cutter, just a bit more selective. Yes, it’ll be at Disneyland (Anaheim) and The Magic Kingdom (Florida) and, in a few years, Disney Hollywood Studios (Paris). I don’t give a shit about Star Wars, but I am juiced up about its theme park spin off. I don’t think I was ever taught to fight back as a kid. Or I blanked that advice out. I was a pacifist for a couple years as a hippie-wannabe teenager. Maybe that’s still hanging out in my subconsciousness. I used to get beaten up in elementary school a lot. It was trendy to beat me up for a while. And then it just stopped, and I became arty and cool. That was it. Well, I did get the shit beaten out of me in the pit at a Bad Religion/Melvins gig once. But so did my friends. So I think that was just me innocently happening to be within range. I’m not so into dreams. Mine anyway. I do like daydreams, though. Those are fruitful. ** Steve Erickson, Wow, how awesome if Godard manages to eek out another film. Hope so. Wow. I might give an ear peek to The Drums, you never know. I think there must be many slasher films where teens get slaughtered in a theme park setting, but, it’s true, I can’t think of one. Theme parks are very expensive to rent. But then slasher films usually have at least several million to play with, I guess. ** Okay. Today’s restored post is a really old one. It’s from 12 years ago, amazingly enough. And it probably looks it. But still. See you tomorrow.


  1. I used to have some signed Burroughs.

    It’s Mickey Katz’s Birthday

    Julian Assange has been arrested by the British and hauled out of the Ecuadoran Embassy. Now to get Trump hauled out of Mar-A-Largo.

  2. Hi, Dennis,

    I’m dying to know why Burroughs wrote “Screw your son” on the back of his autographed photo. I’m imagining the person who requested he sign the photo told him it was for that person’s son. I love Beckett’s rant as well. I have so many prized autographs/inscriptions on book title pages, including many of yours. This makes me wonder if many years from now some punk will come across my books at a used bookstore–or no one will find them because Earth died along with the human race. Ha ha ha ha. BTW, just backtracked and saw the post introducing the Ed Smith book that David edited. Love the post, all the extras. I’m looking forward to diving into that book. The little bit of Ed’s work I’ve previously read seems right up my alley. Anyway, just wanted to say hello. My lunch break is over. Hope life is treating you well.


  3. Some very nice bits of memorabilia here and I especially like that Beckett item. This is my UK passport signed by Irvine Welsh in Chicago 2002. He was giving a reading of his recently published novel Porno, I was howling with laughter at his talk but I think most of that audience had severe issues deciphering his accent.

    I was at the DCA print studio today to make a little more progress with The Call zine on their risograph machine. It’s all looking good but the colours need to dry and I’ll be back in there next week to finally get the thing finished.

  4. I miss a lot by not coming by every day, but: one must also live one’s life, no?
    Did you get to see Can You Ever Forgive Me? I thought it showed interesting ideas about why someone would forge ephemera of better-known writers; it took Lee Israel’s own representation of what she’d done seriously—though not seriously enough to liberate the story from biopic conventions.
    I was reading your ashbery page and then I met somebody for coffee who wanted me to join some poetry effort, though he was asking me because of some recommendation, not because he knew what I’d written, and he asked, What do you write your upend about? And I thought, That’s not a good sign, and I explained a little, and he said, So maybe like Ashbery?, and he said it like, Oh, one of *those*. Can this marriage be saved?
    Also I saw this documentary about the two brothers who wrote a lot if Disney songs, including Its a Small world, and ended up not speaking to each other . For some reason I find the enmity of brothers a very dramatic subject, like much more interesting than romance.
    I’m on a bus back to dc from new York. Taylor Mac’s new play Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus is totally brillant, very exciting, very much a play for now.
    I am reading up on digital art, a midsummer nights dream, and contemporary physics of time for various things I said I’d do

  5. THE IMAGE BOOK would be a fitting note for Godard to go out on, especially because it seems like such a bleak reflection on where cinema has ended up and his own work. I wonder what he thinks of the yellow vests – I’d be surprised if we get anything close to a straightforward opinion from the film, but who knows?

    New reviews published today: HAIL SATAN?: https://www.gaycitynews.nyc/stories/2019/8/satan-film-2019-04-11-gcn.html and THE BRINK: https://www.nashvillescene.com/arts-culture/film/article/21063468/the-brink-gives-steve-bannon-the-attention-he-craves

  6. PreareforKeato

    April 12, 2019 at 4:20 am

    I had a signed Cooper, but depraved junkies are really quick at figuring out which book to steal. This girl I had sex with one time had her boyfriends name tattooed on her lower-back, it was kind of fun reading some other guys name during sex. Jimmy Page signed his name backwards and Ozzy signs titties. Looking at these prices, might reconsider industries LOL. Morbidly Obese Love

  7. One other thing: I’ve decided I want to review Bret Easton Ellis’ WHITE for Gay City News. I know you’re friends with him and I don’t want to insult him as a person, but from reading his Twitter feed and his recent comments outside it, I’m starting to think that his novels worked because he had insight into himself and his social circle – as well as considerable stylistic skill – but he doesn’t have that same insight into politics or art made by people other than white men.

  8. chris dankland

    April 12, 2019 at 5:30 am

    hey dennis !!

    i enjoyed reading today’s post, especially the angry Borges letter. i think in a bit i’ll take it over to google translate and try to suss out what he’s saying. for whatever dumb reason, an angry borges is very entertaining to me. seems atypical for him.

    do u own, or have u owned, any autographs that u thought were particularly cool? william vollmann signed his book on train hopping for me and drew some abstract train tracks, that’s my favorite autograph.

    in zachary german news, i found some of his websites the other day, and knowing ur a fellow fan, thought u might be interested: explainingart.tumblr / explainingart2.tumblr / explainingart3.tumblr

    finding these got me to finally start re-reading the book version of megan boyle’s liveblog, which i’m loving as much as i did 5 years ago. especially enjoying all the zg content in there.

    how’s the biography on u going, if u can or would like to say? i’m very psyched about it, and i was just wondering what the current status is. how does it feel to have someone writing a biography about u? don’t worry about answering any of this if it’s uninteresting.

    i hope yr fabulous french friday is fat with friendly, fantastic fortune !! take care

  9. Hi Dennis, I think I told you that my brother-in-law is an autograph dealer and inspired the idea for my novel about the painter and autograph dealer. The Stephen Spinella character in Can You Ever Forgive Me is actually my brother-in-law – the true story of how he caught her in her forgeries. He showed me a Cocteau letter once, but I don’t remember if it was this one, probably another. I’ve been watching a bunch of Bresson films and was particularly wowed by Diary of a Young Priest and A Man Escaped. What other film maker would end a film in total blackness with just Mozart’s Requiem playing? Truly blown away and moved, ie, cried a lot!

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