Charlotte Brontë: Charlotte Brontë miniature book heads to Yorkshire after fetching $1.25m at auction in New York

LONDON: A miniature book of poems written by 13-year-old Charlotte Bronte will return to her windswept Yorkshire home after being bought for $1.25 million by a British consortium, buyers announced on 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Smaller than a playing card, the 15-page manuscript dated 1829 is a collection of 10 unpublished poems that was unveiled in New York last week after more than a century in hiding.

Entitled “A Book of Rhythms (sic) by Charlotte Bronte, Sold by Nobody, and Printed by Herself”, the volume is hand-sewn in its original brown paper covers.

Friends of the National Libraries, a British literary charity, has confirmed it has raised $1.25 million, meaning “inch for inch, (it) may be the most valuable literary manuscript ever sold”.

It will be donated to the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, where novelist ‘Jane Eyre’ grew up with her siblings, including younger sisters Emily and Anne.

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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 anonymous sellers in New York.

“It’s always touching when an item belonging to the Bronte family is brought home,” she said in a statement.

“And this last little book that comes back to where it was written, when it was thought lost, is very special to 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.

With their brother Branwell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne had fun weaving intricate stories set in a sophisticated fantasy world.

The sisters went on to write some of English literature’s best-loved novels, 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 slipped inside a book”.

“It’s wonderful to look inside and soon the world will be able to see it,” Wessells said.

In December, the same charity acting for UK libraries bought a collection of books and manuscripts, including seven of Charlotte’s miniatures, for £15 million ($19.5 million).


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