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'50s jet-set humor up for auction

Feb. 15, 2007 at 6:33 PM

LONDON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Snippets of England's high-society humor commissioned by Countess Mountbatten of Burma in the 1950s were scheduled to be auctioned in London Thursday.

The manuscripts -- to be auctioned in separate lots in a Bloomsbury sale -- were commissioned by the countess, who asked those in her circle to contribute anecdotes for a book to be auctioned for charity, The Times of London said.

After months of gathering vignettes from Evelyn Waugh, A.A. Milne, Agatha Christie, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and others, Lady Mountbatten died in 1960, leaving the manuscript untouched.

The tales will be sold separately, Bloomsbury said. Among those expected to fetch a high price is the one signed by Christie, who tells of her failed attempt to convert her hair stylist into a fan.

In another tale, actress Dame Sybil Thorndike tells of a clergyman introducing her as a member of "the oldest profession in the world." She said she didn't have the heart to correct him for he knew not what he said.

Simon Luterbacher -- head of manuscripts and senior book cataloguer at Bloomsbury's -- said the stories "as far as we know ... have never seen the light of day."

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