Frequently Asked Questions about the Sale

Table of Contents

What are the terms of the sale?

The Diaries are for sale solely as a lot: proposals to purchase anything other than the entire lot will not be considered. The buyer must ensure that a full copy of all manuscripts is available to scholars and to the public, through a library or research center, and said copy must be made and irrevocably donated before taking ownership of the original Diaries. Since 1994, the Diaries have been housed with the remainder of the Powell papers at the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which has agreed to house the required copies if the buyer wishes it to do so.

Who will own the rights?

All rights to the Powell Diaries are retained by the Estate of Dawn Powell. As with the purchase of a modern painting or sculpture, the buyer will own the physical works, but not rights to their content.

In what condition are the Diaries?

The condition varies substantially. Some volumes are missing their covers; others have extremely frail bindings. Still others are in fair-to-good condition. In all cases, the paper has proven durable and you can safely read the Diaries without concern that the pages will crumble. Considering that some of these volumes are almost a century old and that all of them were stored unprotected in a garage for more than 25 years, the overall condition is better than might be imagined.

How can I see the Diaries?

Viewings will be scheduled for serious bidders at the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library during the month of June. In the meantime, photographs of all the exteriors and some sample pages are available on this web site. (Larger TIFF files are available upon request)

Why are the Diaries being sold?

Tim Page, Powell’s first biographer and editor of her letters, plays, short stories and novels as well as an edition of these Diaries, considers himself fortunate to have owned these volumes for almost 20 years and believes it is time for someone else to have that privilege.

How are the Diaries being sold?

According to Tim Page: “The advancement of social media now permits a seller to bypass the auction houses and reach an interested audience without incurring prohibitive commission fees. Moreover, I like the fact that I can control the sale of these documents and make sure that they find a proper and respectful home.”

How can I bid on the Diaries?

Start by sending along a message through our contact page. Bidding will be open until 6 PM Eastern Time on July 15, 2012. The required opening bid is $500,000, along with a specific plan for making copies of the material permanently available to the public, at Columbia or elsewhere. After review by our lawyer, we anticipate that the field will be narrowed down by July 1 and serious bidders will receive an update on the current status periodically thereafter, with reports as needed or on request during the day of July 15. The highest bid will not necessarily claim the Diaries: the owner reserves the right to place them in what he considers the most appropriate hands.

What have others said about the published Diaries?