Archive > Hermann Hesse – Rare Items and Classic Books

Siddhartha - Peter Owen Anniversary Limited Edition Hardback

Siddhartha – Peter Owen Anniversary Limited Edition Hardback

In 1954 Peter Owen famously bought the UK English translation rights to Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha from his American colleague James Laughlin at New Directions for £25. Hesse was then virtually unknown in the English-speaking world and Peter was both prescient and pivotal in bringing that timeless novel of self-discovery to the Anglosphere. Since that time Peter Owen sold paperback rights to Hilda Rosner’s classic translation to several publishers and brought out several editions of other classic Hermann Hesse works in translation.

In 2012 Peter Owen published a special commemorative small format hardback edition of Siddhartha. This highly collectible book marked the 50th anniversary of Hesse’s death in 1962, and the 90th anniversary of the German language edition of Siddhartha which was first published in 1922. The edition has a foreword by Pico Iyer, an introduction by Jon Hughes, a Hesse chronology and a generous selection of  photographs. This lovely collectible edition limited to 1,000 copies worldwide is still available to buy  details here.

A 1922 first edition of Siddhartha sold for £3,282 at auction recently

A 1922 first edition of Siddhartha sold for £3,282 at auction recently

A 1922 first edition of Siddhartha went on sale in Hamburg in 2014. Auctioneers estimated its value at about £576  (€800 or $848) – in fact it sold for about £3,280 (€4,560 or $4,833) – nearly six times the estimate!

If you have reasonably deep pockets and fancy an original piece of Hesse memorabilia, you might be interested in an auction taking place later in May 2015. A trove of rare items by Hermann Hesse was recently discovered in the estate of the family Walter and Nora Schadow and items from it go under the hammer soon. You too could own a Hesse original water-colour and poem in manuscript!

There are some very attractive lots including Lot 108, an anthology of Six Poems  (estimate €6,000) typed and autographed by Hesse in about 1950 and illustrated in watercolours and pen and ink, and Lot 109 (estimate €15,000) a version of Piktor’s Metamorphoses – A Fairytale first published in 1925 but in this 1934 version hand-copied by and illustrated with watercolours by Hesse himself.

Hermann Hesse's poem – Zur Morgenlandfahrt 1935. Lot 956.

Hermann Hesse’s poem – Zur Morgenlandfahrt 1935. Lot 956.

Lots 954 to 963 (estimates vary from 500 to 6,000) are also from this Hesse archive and feature postcards, watercolours, and autographed poems. The rare books auction 421 which includes plenty of other attractive items takes place in Hamburg on 18 and 19th May, 2015 at Ketterer Kunst.

Alternatively you could plump for something more modestly priced but equally enlightening from the Peter Owen modern classics range. As well as Siddhartha, we publish translations of Demian, Narcissus and Goldmund, The Journey to the East, The Prodigy, and Bernhard Zeller’s Classic Biography.



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