A miniature, unpublished manuscript written by Charlotte Brontë when she was 13 will go on sale for $1.25 million at the New York Book Fair later this month.
Entitled Charlotte Brontë’s Book of Poetry, Unsold and Printed by Herself, the work is smaller than a playing card but contains a literary treasure of 10 poems by the author of Jane Eyre.
The manuscript, dated December 1829, has not been published since it was sold in New York in 1916, according to Henry Wessell of James Cummins Bookseller. He said that he was recently found in a private collection.
Stitched together in original brown paper covers, the 15 pages tell stories of the “complex imaginary world” of Bronte and her siblings, according to a dealer press release.
“They wrote adventure stories, dramas and poetry in homemade handwritten books filled with small print-like handwriting,” the release said.
Charlotte Bronte Credit: Reuters
Cummins, along with Maggs Bros, are the two dealers selling works at the New York International Antiques Book Fair on April 21 at the Park Avenue Armory.
“The last time the manuscript was in public view was in 1916, and we all love the story of unexpected survival,” Wessels told CNN in an email. “Now the owner wishes to preserve it for future generations and ultimately make it available to scientists.”
Wessels described the manuscript as a “beautiful little thing” that had been painstakingly assembled from scraps of homemade paper and sewn together with original threads.
“It must be admitted that the following attempts at rhyming are secondary, but nevertheless they are my best,” Brontë writes 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 frame from The Book of Rhymes in which 13-year-old Charlotte Brontë wrote the word “rhymes” by spelling. Credit: Courtesy of bookseller James Cummins.
“Just think of the Brontë children, who tell and write stories among themselves, study at home in a remote village, and then blossom briefly to write books that have since been read by millions, and also leave behind handmade things such as and this manuscript,” said Wessels, who was amazed at how the book has survived over the past century.
Bronte and her sisters Emily and Ann wrote some of the most beloved novels in the English language, including Jane Eyre (1847), Wuthering Heights (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1948). ).