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Law books and feminist classics in Ruth Bader Ginsburg library up for auction


The personal library of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late US supreme court judge who became a liberal and feminist icon for championing women’s rights, is being auctioned.

Among more than 1,000 books from Ginsburg’s collection are legal textbooks from her student days, literature, feminist classics, and works by her fellow supreme court justices.

A highlight of the online sale, which runs until 27 January, is Ginsburg’s personal and heavily annotated copy of 1957-58 Harvard Law Review, from the year she was a member.

Another is a first edition of the feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem’s memoir My Life on the Road, inscribed: “To dearest Ruth – who paved the road for us all – with a lifetime of love and gratitude – Gloria.”

Catherine Williamson, the head of the book department at Bonhams, which is selling the collection, said: “A person’s library can give us a sense of who the individual is and how she came to be. Justice Ginsburg’s library is no different, as it records her evolution from student (and voracious reader) to lawyer and law professor, to judge and finally, justice of the United States supreme court.

“The books Justice Ginsburg chose to keep on her own bookshelf showcase the rich inner and intellectual life of one of the most influential women in recent American history.”

Ginsburg, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 87 in September 2020, was only the second woman appointed to the US supreme court. She was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993, and was known as a champion of gender equality and women’s rights and a defender of civil liberties.

The vacancy she left on the supreme court bench was filled by a conservative judge, Amy Coney Barrett, nominated by Donald Trump in one of his last acts before losing the presidential election in November 2020.

The sale includes books, photographs and ephemera dating from Ginsburg’s years as a law student through to her years at the supreme court. Among the novels are Catcher in the Rye, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and works by Tolstoy and De Tocqueville.

Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics and books by Susan Sontag and Erica Jong are among feminist literary classics in the collection. A copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved is inscribed by the author to Ginsburg and her husband.

A copy of Ginsburg’s own book, My Own Words, a collection of writings taking in gender equality, opera, being Jewish and the workings of the supreme court, has an estimate of between $1,000 and $2,000.



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