It’s almost impossible to know where to start. Jules Verne wrote so many books and there were thousands of translations on top of his French language editions. You could drop £29,000 on the first edition of Cinq Semaines en Ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon), Verne’s first book from 1863, but we are assuming that price-tag is beyond most budgets.
There are 65 novels, including the posthumously published ones, around 20 short stories and a handful of non-fiction books to browse through. It could be argued that his three best known books are Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869), Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), and A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864) although From the Earth to the Moon (1865), The Mysterious Island (1875) and Michael Strogoff (1876) are also very popular.
The science fiction genre owes much to Verne, who was a generation and the English Channel apart from H.G. Wells. Verne died in 1905 and Wells in 1946. Many of the fantastic things Verne envisioned came to reality. The Frenchman had an uncanny knack for seeing things that would be developed in the near future, such as submarines, skyscrapers and spacecraft. From the Earth to the Moon mirrors the Apollo moon landing mission in many ways, including a three-man crew blasting off from Florida. Apart from science fiction, Verne also wrote many memorable adventure novels such as Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon and The Archipelago on Fire.
You will encounter the French first editions, and first US and British editions of the translations, illustrated editions – and also pirated editions. You will find countless novels bound in pictorial cloth (reds, greens and blues particularly) and gilt titles. You will see dozens of adventure scenes on the covers. Anything signed by Verne is very scarce these days.
1. The Lottery Ticket - £3,350
One of Verne’s most scarce books – this copy with grey cloth had an inscription dated 1886.
2. Kéraban-le-Têtu - £3,150
First illustrated edition, translates as Keraban the Inflexible for English editions. Dated 1887.
3. From the Earth to the Moon - £1,850
Scribner’s 1884 edition translated by Louis Mercier and Eleanor E. King. Purple cloth.
4. From the Earth to the Moon - £1,725
First official US edition – there was an earlier pirated edition.
5. A letter from Jules Verne to Pierre-Jules Hetzel - £1,650
A brief letter from Verne to his publisher about the manuscript for Paris in the Twentieth Century. Verne wants to hear his verdict but Hetzel will refuse to print it.
6. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth - £1,475
Blue cloth with gilt. Scribner’s first edition from 1874.
7. L'Île Mystérieuse - £945
An undated copy but probably around 1906. Bound in buckram with gilt lettering.
8. The Works of Jules Verne (15 vols) edited by Charles F. Horne - £940
Bound in green cloth. One of 600 numbered sets signed by registrar R. G. Lancaster
9. From the Earth to the Moon - £930
Green cloth with 80 wood engravings by Montaut, Neuville and Bayard.
10. The Green Ray - £860
First British edition from 1883. Bound in patterned endpapers with an ornate pictorial cloth.