An original manuscript of Irish author Samuel Beckett’s first novel ‘Murphy’ has been sold at Sotheby’s London for a staggering $1.6 million.

RTE reports that the manuscript, which includes doodles of Beckett’s contemporaries such as James Joyce and Charlie Chaplin, was held by a private owner for nearly a half century.

Beckett scholars will now have access to the manuscript as it becomes part of the Beckett Collection based at the University of Reading, which bought the notebooks for
$1.4 million.

The Beckett manuscripts, penned from 1935 - 1936, include 700 pages of notes and doodles in six notebooks. It also features passages that were cut from the original 1938 publication of ‘Murphy.’

Peter Selley, Sotheby's senior specialist in books and manuscripts, said, "This is unquestionably the most important manuscript of a complete novel by a modern British or Irish writer to appear at auction for many decades," he said.

"I have known about the existence of this remarkable manuscript for a long time - as have a number of others in the rare book business and some Beckett scholars - but it has only been glimpsed, tantalisingly, by a few chosen individuals during that time.

"The notebooks contain almost infinite riches for all those - whether scholars or collectors - interested in this most profound of modern writers."

Beckett’s work will be celebrated next month during Northern Ireland’s ‘Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival.’ Celebrities including Winona Ryder, Clive James, Miranda Richardson and Juliet Stevenson, will take part in readings and talks about the writer best known for his avant-garde play ‘Waiting For Godot.’

Samuel Becket's manuscript of "Murphy" including sketchesPhotograph: Sotheby's/PA