The last of two dozen miniature books made by young Charlotte Brontë to keep them in private hands. reappeared last month Nearly a century later, it will soon make its way to the remote parsonage in the steppes of northern England where it was built.
“A Book of Rhymes” featuring 10 previously unpublished poems by 13-year-old Brontë, at the weekend New York International Antiques Book Fair, where it was offered for $1.25 million. During the preview of the show last Thursday, a red dot appeared on the label inside the custom-made display case, indicating that it was being sold, sparking speculation about the buyer.
On Monday, it turned out to be the buyer himself. Friends of National Librariesa British charity is donating it to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of Brontë manuscripts.
Ann Dinsdale, the museum’s chief curator, said in a statement that she was “absolutely excited” by the turn of events.
“It’s always emotional when a Bronte family item comes back home, and it’s very special to us that this last little book is returned to where it was written after it was thought to have gone missing,” he said.
According to a news release, the book will be on public display and will also be digitized, making the poems nearly unseen since it was written accessible to readers around the world.
Miniature books and magazines created by young Charlotte. In the 1820s, Emily, Anne and Branwell Brontë were objects of long awe. ordinary people and deep pocketed collectors. The little volumes, originally created to entertain toy soldiers (and sewed together from candy wrappers, wallpaper scraps, and other stray pieces of paper), are Charlotte’s “Jane Eyre” and Emily’s “Wuthering Heights”.
“A Book of Rhymes,” a 15-page volume smaller than an 1829 playing card, was last seen at auction in New York in 1916, where it sold for $520. He later disappeared, his whereabouts – and even his survival – unknown.
The titles of the 10 poems in it were listed in Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1857 biography of Charlotte Brontë. But the poems themselves were never published, photographed, transcribed, or even summarized, making them, as some scholars say, the last of his unread poems.
News of its reappearance sparked fears that the book might be lost in another private collection. James Cummins Booksellers and Maggs Bros., dealers selling the book on behalf of an unidentified private collector, first offered it to Friends of the National Libraries, giving them several weeks to raise the purchase price. (Funds were raised from more than nine donors, including the Garfield Weston Foundation and the TS Eliot Estate.)
The purchase is the group’s latest dramatic savings. Last year, Raised $20 million To preserve the Honresfield Library, a famous “lost” library of rare books and manuscripts on Brontës, Robert Burns, Walter Scott and others, set for distribution at Sotheby’s auction.
Items from this treasure will be distributed to a number of libraries and museums, including the Brontë vicarage. Parsonage already has nine children’s miniatures, which will be joined by seven more from the Honresfield Library, in addition to Charlotte’s “Rhymes from Her Book.”
In the news release, the 3.8 x 2.5 inch “Book Rhymes”, inch by inch, priced at $1.25 million, boasted as “probably the most valuable literary manuscript ever sold.” And its literary quality?
On the back of the title page, Charlotte offered a modest disclaimer: “The following are attempts at inferior rhyme that should be accepted, but they are still my best ones.”