The Cayman Islands Humane Society is auctioning off a collection of signed books written and collected by the late author Dick Francis.
Mr. Francis’s son Felix donated the books to the humane society after his father, who lived in Grand Cayman for the latter part of his life, passed away in early 2010.
The silent auction will be held at Casanova’s restaurant in George Town from 7 to 9pm on Thursday, 27 September and about 60 books are up for grabs – many of them first editions.
“All the proceeds will, of course, be going toward the animals at the shelter, which is exactly what Dick Francis would have wanted,” said Janette Fitzgerald, retail director of the Cayman Islands Humane Society.
She said Felix Francis had delivered hundreds of his father’s books to the humane society’s book store, the Book Loft, and most of those had been sold, but the autographed, rare and first editions had been retained and those were the ones that will be auctioned next week.
Mr. Francis, who lived in a condo on Seven Mile Beach until his death in February 2010, moved to the Cayman Islands in 1992, with his wife Mary, who passed away in 2006.
He was best known for writing more than 40 international best-sellers. He was also a racing correspondent for London’s Sunday Express newspaper and had been a champion jockey. From 1953 to 1957, he was jockey to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, before being forced to retire from horse racing due to a serious fall.
Ms Fitzgerald said the collection includes about 20 first editions, all in excellent condition and signed by the authors, many with personal notes and inscriptions to Mr. Francis.
“All the books have some visible connection to Dick Francis, such as the cook book ‘To Set Before a Queen’ by Mrs. McKee, who was a lady who has been a cook for the Queen and the Queen Mother, who was a close and dear friend to Dick and his wife, Mary.
“It has Dick’s own words inside, saying how much he appreciated being given the book from a dear friend of theirs, Jean Yorke. The book cost the princely sum of 5 shillings and was published in 1963 and is still in very good condition,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
Also up for bids are several first edition Laura Crum novels, signed by the author. She is best known for her mystery series featuring equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy.
There are some rare books owned by Mr. Francis, such as the 1975 A Velveteen Rabbit and his treasured copy of Anne of Green Gables, together with the 1936 edition of Hunting Scenes by Cecil Aldin, which is almost impossible to buy in the market today.
“We have a fascinating and diverse set of books that any book lover would be happy to own – their own personal piece of history, a book once owned by one of the great mystery writers of all time, Dick Francis,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
The entire collection can be viewed prior to the auction on the humane society’s website.