The personal library of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late US Supreme Court Justice who became a liberal and feminist icon for the defense of women’s rights, is up for auction.
Among the more than 1,000 books in 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 through Jan. 27, is Ginsburg’s personal, heavily annotated copy of the Harvard Law Review 1957-58, from the year she was a member.
Another is a first edition of pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem’s memoir, My Life on the Road, inscribed: “To my dear Ruth – who paved the way for us all – with a lifetime of love and gratitude – Gloria.
Catherine Williamson, head of the books department at Bonhams, which sells the collection, said: “A person’s library can give us an idea of who the person is and how they 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 Supreme Court of the United States.
“The books Judge Ginsburg chose to keep in her own library 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 United States Supreme Court. She was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993 and was known as a champion of gender equality and women’s rights and an advocate for civil liberties.
The vacancy she left on the Supreme Court bench was filled by a conservative judge, Amy Coney Barrett, appointed by Donald Trump in one of his last acts before losing the November 2020 presidential election.
The sale includes books, photographs and ephemera from Ginsburg’s years as a law student through her days on the Supreme Court. Among the novels are Catcher in the Rye, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and works by Leo Tolstoy and Alexis de Tocqueville.
Sexual Politics by Kate Millet and books by Susan Sontag and Erica Jong are among the feminist classics in the collection. A copy of Beloved by Toni Morrison is inscribed by the author to Ginsburg and her husband.
A copy of Ginsburg’s own book, My Own Words — a collection of writings covering gender equality, opera, being Jewish and the workings of the Supreme Court — has an estimate of between 1,000 and $2,000.