Charlotte Brontë’s Lost Manuscript Sells for $1.25 Million | Smart News

A Book of Rhythms by Charlotte Brontë
Courtesy of James Cummins Bookseller, Inc.

Nearly 200 years ago, a 13-year-old created a small book of poems in tiny, print-like text and sewed it into a miniature book with a needle and thread.

This teenage author was Charlotte Brontewho will write later Jane Eyre and become one of the most acclaimed novelists in English literature. And this manuscript – lost for years and recently rediscovered in a 19th century schoolbook – has just sold for $1.25 million, Barrons” reports Josh Nathan-Kazis.

The identity of the buyer has not yet been revealed, said Manhattan bookseller Henry Wessells Barrons. But the fate of the unpublished poems inside could depend on the buyer of the manuscript.

Bookseller James Cummins in partnership with London Maggs Bros. for sale, which took place at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. The public can see the book in New York from yesterday (Brontë’s birthday) until April 24.

The 15-page book “A Book of Rhythms [sic] by Charlotte Brontë, sold by person and printed by herself” contains 10 unpublished poems.

The book’s small handwriting the size of a playing card, intended to resemble the font of a printing press, is “impossible to read at a quick glance without a magnifying glass”, writes the New York Times‘Jennifer Schüssler.

Its content sheds light on the personality of its young author. In the table of contents, Brontë attributes the poems to the imaginary authors “Marquis de Duro and Lord Charles Wellesley”, then denies that they are “actually written by me”.

On the back of the title page, she writes apologetically: “The following are attempts at rhyme of an inferior nature, it must be admitted, but they are none the less my best.”

Miniature books played an outsized role in the lives of the author, his brother Branwell, and sisters Emily and Anne. well readprecocious and isolated in the small town of Haworth, Yorkshire, the children created a “sophisticated fantasy world”, write the merchants in a Release– the one that preoccupied them until adulthood. Charlotte and Branwell imagined Englandand Emily and Anne created Gondal—worlds of adventure that inspired little books, poems, and eventually novels by the sister.

“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,” says Wessells CNNThis is Aya Elamroussi.

The manuscripts fell into private hands and were scattered in various collections around the world after the untimely deaths of the four Brontë siblings. In recent years, British cultural institutions and Haworth Rectory Museumwho manages the siblings’ childhood home and Brontë’s largest document library, purchased many manuscripts at astronomical prices.

In 2011, one of the little books sold for $1.07 million after a bidding war exploded between rival museums, and in 2021 a trove of material, including a rare manuscript of Emily’s poems, culminated in a landmark campaign to raise more than $20 million to buy the entire library. The appeal was successful and last December the Time reports, the institutions managed to purchase the entire collection intact.

The just-sold manuscript was last seen in public when it sold for $520 in New York in 1916; it was recently discovered in a private collection inside a letter-sized envelope nestled in the pages of a 19th-century schoolbook.

This 1829 edition is particularly valuable. Scholar Bronte Claire Harmon describes its contents as “the last unread poems of Charlotte Brontë”, according to the Time.

Charlotte Brontë was the last surviving of her literary siblings Emily and Annawho wrote “The Wuthering Heights” and “The tenant of Wildfell Hall; ” and branwell, who struggled with alcoholism and was Charlotte’s childhood co-conspirator. Charlotte’s three siblings died of tuberculosis within eight months, aged around 30.

Although Charlotte would have succumbed to the same fate six years later, less than a year after her marriage, historians now believe that she died of dehydration and starvation caused by hyperemesis gravidaruma severe form of morning sickness that has afflicted Kate Middleton during her pregnancies.

Due to the short lifespan of authors, any original Brontë manuscript is an incredible find for literature lovers. The titles of the poems in the little book have long been known from Brontë’s personal catalog of his works (among them “The Beauty of Nature”, “Song of an Exile” and “Seeing the Ruins of the Tower of Babel” ).

But the poems were never even summarized, much less published. It remains to be seen whether the future buyer will decide to make its content public.

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