John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces

originally published:
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University
May 1980

We offered this advance review copy of the first edition in our Catalog 97.


  • Pulitzer Prize for Fiction(1981)
  • Burgess 99(1980)
  • First Book(1980)

reference info

bio notes:
born: 12/17/1937
died: 3/26/1969
born as: John Kennedy Toole
nationality: USA

New Orleans-born author who was unpublished at the time of his suicide in 1969. His writing was championed at first by his mother and then by Walker Percy, and his novel A Confederacy of Dunces won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

Collecting tips:

Toole's story is well-known, but if you don't already know it, he killed himself in despair when he couldn't get A Confederacy of Dunces (1980) published. His mother haunted publishers until, with the help of Walker Percy, she managed to get LSU to publish the book, the first work of fiction from that publisher. To everyone's surprise, the book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. The boards of the book seem to warp or splay pretty easily, but copies with just a little splaying probably shouldn't be rejected out of hand, unless you really want to be a stickler. The jacket is uncoated, and primarily black, so its hard to find copies that don't have at least some rubbing. Also, look to see whether the pale blue lettering on the book has faded or not. Needless to say, a signed copy should raise a little suspicion (unless its been channeled from the spirit world), although copies signed by either Percy or the author's mother do turn up, and command a modest premium. A decade and a half ago one collector told us he had a bunch of copies signed by Percy, and rather annoyingly, he's been dangling them ever since. We'll keep you posted.