A Miniature Manuscript Written by Charlotte Brontë Will Go on Sale for $1.25 Million


Contributors Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

An unpublished miniature manuscript written by Charlotte Brontë when she was 13 will go on sale for $1.25 million at a New York book fair later this month.

The work entitled “A book of rhythms by Charlotte Brontë, sold by nobody and printed by herself” is smaller than a playing card – but it contains a literary treasure of 10 poems by the author “Jane Eyre” .

The manuscript, dated December 1829, has not been seen publicly since it was sold in New York in 1916, according to Henry Wessells, partner at James Cummins Bookseller. It was recently found in a private collection, he said.

Sewn together in their original brown paper covers, the 15 pages tell stories involving the “sophisticated fantasy world” of Brontë and his siblings, according to a press release from the dealers.

“They wrote stories of adventures, dramas and verse in handmade manuscript books filled with tiny scriptures meant to look like printed matter,” the statement read.

Charlotte Bronte Credit: Reuters

Cummins and Maggs Bros are the two dealers selling the work at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair on April 21 at the Park Avenue Armory.

“The manuscript was last made public in 1916, and we all love the story of unexpected survival,” Wessells told CNN in an email. “Now the owner wants to ensure it is preserved for future generations and ultimately made available for scholarship.”

Wessells described the manuscript as “a beautiful little thing” that was carefully assembled from scraps of household paper and sewn with the original thread.

“What follows are attempts at rhyme of an inferior nature, it must be admitted, but they are none the less my best”, writes Brontë on the title page of the manuscript. And at the end of the book, she asserts creative control over the imaginary world created by herself and her siblings.

A shot of "book of rhythms," which contains the spelling of the word by Charlotte Brontë, 13 years old "rhymes."

A photo from the “Book of Rhythms”, which contains the spelling of the word “rhymes” by 13-year-old Charlotte Brontë. Credit: Courtesy of bookseller James Cummins

“Just think of the children of Brontë telling and writing stories among themselves, learning at home in a remote village, then blossoming, briefly, to write the books that have since been read by millions, and also leaving behind handmade things like this manuscript,” said Wessells, who marveled at how the book has survived into the last century.

Brontë and her sisters Emily and Anne wrote some of the best-loved novels in the English language, including “Jane Eyre” (1847), “Wuthering Heights” (1847), and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” (1948).

In 2011, another of Brontë’s tiny handwritten manuscripts sold for $1.07 million. Rival museums have launched a bidding battle over the object – which was written in 1830 when she was 14.

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