A miniature book of poems written by a 13-year-old Charlotte Bronte will return to her windswept Yorkshire home after it was bought for $1.25 million by a British consortium, the buyers said Monday. Smaller than a playing card, the 15-page manuscript dated 1829 is a collection of 10 unpublished poems that was unveiled in New York last week after more than a century hidden away.
Titled “A Book of Ryhmes (sic) by Charlotte Bronte, Sold by Nobody, and Printed by Herself,” the volume is hand-stitched in its original brown paper covers. Friends of the National Libraries, a British literary charity, confirmed it had raised the $1.25 million, meaning that “inch for inch, (it) is possibly the most valuable literary manuscript ever to be sold”.
It will be donated to the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, where the “Jane Eyre” novelist grew up with her siblings including young sisters Emily and Anne. Ann Dinsdale, the museum’s chief curator, thanked all the British benefactors who came together to fund the purchase after the charity was offered first refusal by the anonymous sellers in New York.
“It is always emotional when an item belonging to the Bronte family is returned home,” she said in a statement. “And this final little book coming back to the place it was written, when it had been thought lost, is very special for us.”
The book had not been seen in public since November 1916, when it sold at auction in New York for $520. It was the last of more than two dozen miniature works created by Charlotte Bronte known to remain in private hands. Along with their brother Branwell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne entertained themselves by weaving intricate stories set in a sophisticated imaginary world.
The sisters went on to write some of the best-loved novels in English literature, including Emily’s “Wuthering Heights” and Anne’s “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”.
Henry Wessells of New York-based James Cummins Bookseller told AFP last week that the private owner had found the manuscript “in an envelope tucked into a book”. “It’s wonderful to look at it inside and soon the world will be able to see it,” Wessells said. In December, the same charity acting for UK libraries purchased a collection of books and manuscripts, including seven of Charlotte’s miniatures, for £15 million ($19.5 million). – AFP