Original Alcoholics Anonymous manuscript heads to auction

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The original manuscript that launched what became Alcoholics Anonymous will be auctioned off after nearly a year of legal wrangling, a California auction house said on Wednesday.

The so-called “Big Book” from 1939, which lays out the organisation’s famous 12-step alcoholism recovery program, is expected to fetch $2 million to $3 million at a May 5 auction in Los Angeles, auctioneers Profiles in History said.

The auction comes as Alcoholics Anonymous agreed to let bidding go ahead after suing last year to block the manuscript’s sale. Terms of the agreement were not released.

The organisation had asked a New York court for the rights to the original Big Book after owner Ken Roberts declared his intention to sell. Roberts bought the manuscript for $992,000 at Sotheby’s in 2007.

The original Big Book is a 161-page working draft filled with handwritten edits by the AA’s founders, some by main writer and co-founder William Wilson, better known as Bill W.

Alcoholics Anonymous said a friend of Wilson’s widow made a gift of the manuscript to the organisation in 1979 but that it was never handed over because of “extreme negligence” of others.

The Big Book has sold more than 30 million copies since it was first published in 1939, according to AA’s website. The group counts more than 2.1 million members.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey