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Rare £400 book left on Shrewsbury charity shop doorstep

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A book that tells the tale of a little boy who falls to earth could fetch the princely sum of £400 for a Shrewsbury charity shop.

Left on the doorstep of the Oxfam shop on Dogpole, the first edition copy of The Little Prince was spotted by eagle-eyed volunteer Ros Westwood who swooped on the book knowing it was something out of this world.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It was first published in 1943 as a novella and is the most famous work of the French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The volume which is up for sale in Shrewsbury is a first edition and dates back to 1944.

Translated into more than 250 languages and dialects, selling nearly two million copies annually with sales totalling over 140 million copies worldwide, The Little Prince has become one of the best-selling books ever published.

Tom Cotton, manager of the Dogpole branch of Oxfam, said: "The book was donated to the shop by an unknown person.

"It was published in 1944 and is still in a very nice condition. It has lost its dust jacket but the images and illustrations are still in wonderful condition. It is absolutely beautiful inside.

"As far as I am aware there was a 50-year gap between the first edition coming out and the second edition, which makes this book particularly rare.

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"We hope that with the sale of this book, money raised can go to help Oxfam projects around the world, particularly with the refugees.

"The importance of the book was spotted by one of our volunteers, Ros Westwood, who has worked for Oxfam for 15 years and is very knowledgeable about books. The book is for sale in the shop and also on the Oxfam website and we hope that it will raise in the region of £400.

"We have had very valuable books brought into our shop here in Shrewsbury. We are very grateful to those who donate and the volunteers who spot the books. Without them we would not be able to do the work we do."

The Little Prince is a poetic tale, with watercolour illustrations by the author, in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The story is philosophical and includes social criticism, remarking on the strangeness of the adult world.

Though ostensibly styled as a children's book, The Little Prince makes several observations about life and human nature. For example, Saint-Exupéry tells of a fox meeting the young prince. The fox's quotes are arguably the book's most famous because they deal with human relationships.

Saint-Exupéry wrote and illustrated the manuscript in1942. He spent much of the war in America and, only weeks after the book was first published in April and 1943, despite his wife's pleadings he joined the Free French Forces. His aircraft disappeared over the Mediterranean in July 1944.

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