Edinburgh's Christian Aid book sale offers first editions of George Orwell's '1984' and 'Animal Farm'

First editions of George Orwell classics Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four and a limited edition of TS Eliot's Dante will be among the star items at a Christian Aid sale in Edinburgh.
Kirsty Wark reads from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Pic: ProvidedKirsty Wark reads from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Pic: Provided
Kirsty Wark reads from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Pic: Provided

The huge sale at St Andrew's and St George's West Church in George Street will open at 10am on Saturday, May 11 and runs until Friday, May 17.

Buyers will be queuing up from the early hours of Saturday morning eager to uncover a rare find at the sale, which involves 60,000 donated books and collectables.

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And star items this year include first editions of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (written 1949) and 'Animal Farm' (written 1945) plus a signed, limited first edition of TS Eliot's 'Dante' (written 1929).

Kirsty Wark with the first editions.Kirsty Wark with the first editions.
Kirsty Wark with the first editions.

The first edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four will be priced at £1,000 and the copies of Animal Farm and Dante have a price tag in the "high hundreds."

And a painting by artist Victoria Crowe, 'In Santa Trinita, Florence,' will be priced at £1,950.

The sale has grown from small beginnings 48 years ago with a few books on one table in the church courtyard in George Street to becoming what is believed to be the biggest charity book sale in the UK and one of the largest in the world.

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The patron for this year is the journalist Kirsty Wark. Patrons from previous years include John Byrne, Ian Rankin, Julia Donaldson, Alexander McCall Smith, AL Kennedy, Liz Lochhead, Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, Aileen Paterson and Alexander Stoddart.

Kirsty Wark said: “Books fire the imagination and are also a great source of solace. I am so delighted to support the book sale and I hope the crowds rush in in search of a good read.”

A remarkable library of Scottish books has been donated to Christian Aid by the family of Margaret Street MBE, founder of the Leith Civic Trust, who died last year. She was a notable Scot who made a unique contribution to Scottish life and culture in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

The Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, Locum Minister at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, said; “I am in awe at the scale of the operation to organise this extraordinary book sale, but it is so much more than a book sale.

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"This is an enterprise delivered by people who also want to change the world. Every penny raised is used by Christian Aid to feed the hungry and address the systemic causes of poverty in the developing world.

"When you come to this sale you will take home any number of good books, but you will also be doing untold good in the life of some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

The Rev Dr Chalmers is the Convener of the World Mission Council, which is the Church of Scotland’s principal link with Christian Aid.

James Holloway, the Sale’s Art Convener and former Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, said: “I am really delighted that Victoria Crowe has given the sale one of her very beautiful watercolours.

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"Crowe is one of Scotland’s greatest and most popular artists and is being celebrated this summer with two exhibitions in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh City Art Centre and The Scottish Gallery."

The Christian Aid Sale takes place from 10am on Saturday 11 May until Friday 17 May at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, George Street, Edinburgh.

The annual sale also includes antiques, ephemera, pictures, records, sheet music and toys and has raised more than £10 million pounds for Christian Aid since 1973.