First-edition books may fetch £15m

A collection of first-edition books, described as the greatest of its kind, is estimated to sell for between £8m and £15m at auction later this year.

One book, a signed copy of A Christmas Carol is expected to fetch up to £200,000. Charles Dickens inscribed the copy on New Year's Day 1844 to William Macready, an actor and close friend. The mini-library is made up of 3,000 books which will be sold in a series of sales beginning on 28 October by Sotheby's in London. Many of them were inscribed by authors to friends.

The collection, belonging to an unnamed English bibliophile, includes the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's poems, dated to 1640. Also featuring in the sale will be The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, considered by many to be the first detective novel.

Peter Selley, a books specialist at Sotheby's, said: "Every book is a knockout. It takes your breath away."