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Somerville's writings and art go under the hammer

December 10th, 2016 11:50 AM

By Southern Star Team

The Somerville manuscript which is expected to sell for over €3,000.

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By BRIAN MOORE

AN unpublished book by one of West Cork’s most famous writers is about to go under the hammer at an auction in Dublin next week.

The hand-written manuscript entitled Growly Wowly. Or The Story of the Three Little Pigs by Edith Somerville is expected to fetch somewhere between €3,000 and €5,000 at the Fonsie Mealy Auction of rare books, literature, manuscripts, maps and other works of art at the Gresham Hotel on Tuesday, December 13th. 

Edith Somerville of Drishane House, Castletownshend was one of the famous writing duo of Somerville & Ross, who created The Irish RM collection of stories. 

However, the manuscript up for auction now was never published and also contains eight hand-painted watercolour illustrations by Edith who was also an accomplished artist.  ‘We have a lot of registered interest from across the country. This is a very rare and beautiful manuscript which showcases the talent of Edith Somerville as an artist, as well as a writer,’ auctioneer George Fonsie-Mealy told The Southern Star. ‘We also have 12 beautiful oils on canvas which are for sale for the first time. However, there are many other sought-after beautiful artworks, signed manuscripts and limited editions by Edith Somerville included in the auction,’ he added.

One of Edith’s artworks included in the sale is a sketch entitled ‘The Goose Girl’, which priced at between €700 and €1,000 is expected to generate a lot of interest at the auction. As Tom Somerville, Edith’s great, great nephew who now lives at Drishane House in Castletownshend explained, these books, manuscripts, drawings and sketches belong to the Coghill family. ‘Edith’s sister, Hildegarde, married Sir Egerton Coghill, and her son Patrick was her godson.  Although there was eight years’ difference between them, Edith and Hildegarde were always very close and after the death of her husband she lived with Edith at Drishane,’ Tom told The Southern Star. 

‘Hildegarde was given – as were her brothers – signed copies of Edith’s books. 

These and the other items are being sold by Hildegarde’s descendants. The ‘Growly-Wowley’ is based on a book by Edith’s first cousin Ethel Coghill (later Penrose) called Darby and Joan; the cousins were very close, and she illustrated many of Ethel’s children’s books. 

Her collaboration with Ethel (although it was mainly restricted to illustrations) was perhaps a precursor to her later work with her second cousin Violet Martin of Ross, as in Somerville and Ross,’ Tom said.

The auction will be streamed live on the-saleroom.com.

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