A Manuscript of Emily Brontë’s poems with penciled edits by Charlotte Brontë Heads to Auction

Thought lost for almost a century, the Honresfield Library was assembled with passion by self-made Victorian industrialists Alfred and William Law at the turn of the 20th century and has since been maintained with care by generations of the Law family. A unique treasury replete with cornerstones of British culture, its re-emergence after almost 100 years in obscurity marks a defining moment for bibliophiles in what is set to be the one of the great library sales of recent years.

Among the library’s holdings is the most important material by the Brontë sisters to come to light in a generation – unrivalled in importance by any other private collection. The rare pieces open a window onto the short but amazing lives of Charlotte, Emily, Anne and even Branwell Brontë.

Treasures include an extremely rare handwritten copy of Emily’s poems, with revisions from Charlotte (est. £800,000-1,200,000) and the well-loved Brontë family copy of Bewick’s History of British Birds, the book made famous in the opening pages of Jane Eyre (est. £30,000-50,000), brimming with entertaining annotations from their father Patrick. Little-seen letters to and from the likes of fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, Hartley Coleridge (son of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge), George Smith, publisher and vital champion of ‘The Bells’ (The Brontës’ secretive pseudonym), and many more, abound.

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Photo Credit: Sotheby’s

Scottish literature is also at the heart of the collection, which includes the most important manuscript by Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, in private hands. A compendium of poems, notes and ideas put together by Burns as an unknown twenty-four year old, First Commonplace Book offers a unique insight into the bard’s mind. It was last sold at Sotheby’s in 1879, for £10. The collection also includes other individual handwritten manuscripts of Burns’s poems and original letters to friends, family, patrons and lovers which build a picture of his colourful life.

Romantic writer Sir Walter Scott – the second-most quoted writer in the Oxford English Dictionary after Shakespeare – is also represented, most notably by the complete manuscript for Rob Roy, one of the last remaining manuscripts of a great 19th century novel that is not now in an institution.

Further noteworthy lots include Jane Austen first editions, including Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, a copy of Don Quixote printed in 1620 for Edward Blounte, the publisher famous for the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, and an annotated copy of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poems with pages showing author’s changes from proof printing in his hand. There is hardly an area that is untouched, with Homer, Ovid, the Grimm Brothers, Montaigne, Ann Radcliffe, Horace Walpole, Charles Dickens and Mary Wollstonecraft also making an appearance.

The more than 500 historic manuscripts, exceptional first editions, intimate letters and beautiful bindings will be offered across three auctions at Sotheby’s, commencing this summer (first auction open for bidding from 2 – 13 July 2021). The public will get the chance to view the library, with exhibitions of highlights to take place in London, Edinburgh and New York.

View the original post by: Fine Books and Collections.


Sotheby’s Auction Information

The Honresfield Library, Part One

Bidding Opens:

2 July 2021 • 14:00 BST • London

About this lot

The Honresfield library was assembled by William Law (1836-1901), augmented by his brother Alfred Law (1838-1913) and their nephew Sir Alfred Joseph Law (1860-1939). The library’s cornerstones are world-class holdings of the Brontës, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott, on which is built a remarkable collection with precious highlights venturing well beyond the core of 18th-19th century British literature. It is a library of astonishing riches that has been treasured by generations of a private family for more than a century.

Photo Credit: Sotheby’s | COLLECTION OF 22 WORKS BY AND ABOUT THE BRONTËS – Sold 12/11/15

Sotheby’s has sold many wonderful (and sometimes rare) Brontë Sisters books, manuscripts and associated items.

View all Sotheby’s Brontë offerings past and present:

Rare Charlotte Brontë ‘little book’ to go on show at Haworth

A rare book the size of a matchbox written by the teenage Charlotte Brontë will go on public display for the first time after a museum paid €600,000 (£505,000) to bring it back to Britain.

Curators said they wept when they finally received the book, which arrived from an auction house in Paris. It was penned by the oldest of the Brontë sisters at the family’s home in Haworth, West Yorkshire, 200 years ago.

Handwritten by Brontë at the age of 14, the book has just 20 pages and contains three entire short stories.

It is one of six surviving “little books” penned by the author of Jane Eyre and had been in a private collection since her death in 1855.

In November last year, the Brontë Society was able to bring the “hugely important” academic work back to Britain when it went up for auction.

The Brontë Parsonage Museum, at the home of the sisters, launched a fundraising appeal after being outbid at a previous auction. Donations of £85,000 from more than 1,000 supporters added to money from trusts and public funding bodies.

The historic piece of literature was eventually bought for €600,000 and will go on display for the first time on Saturday.

Ann Dinsdale, the principal curator at the museum, said she had been there for 30 years and had never seen such a display of emotion.

“We had a welcome committee of staff who’d made a point of being in the museum to see it arrive. It was like a historic occasion,” she said. “Some of us felt a little tearful. So much effort and passion had gone into bringing it to Haworth and we’d worked so long and so hard to make it happen.

“It seemed extraordinary that there had been this huge interest in such a tiny item.”

The manuscript, called The Young Men’s Magazine, contains more than 4,000 handwritten words in a meticulously folded and stitched magazine.

It is made up of three stories: A letter From Lord Charles Wellesley, The Midnight Song and Journal of a Frenchman.

Part of it describes a murderer driven to madness after being haunted by his victims, and how “an immense fire” burning in his head causes his bed curtains to set alight.

Experts at the museum say this section of the story is a clear precursor of a famous scene between Bertha and Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, which Charlotte would publish 17 years later.Another is a fantasy about fine dining and aristocratic living, which Dinsdale says reads as “almost an antidote to domestic life at Haworth”.

“It’s hugely important in academic terms because it adds so much to our knowledge of Charlotte’s development as a writer,” Dinsdale said. She added: “The three pieces of prose make it absolutely clear that she had an incredible imagination.”

The booklet was one of a series of six, of which five are known to survive. The other four are already owned by the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Kitty Wright, the executive director of the Brontë Society, said: “We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from people from all over the world backing our campaign.”

Originally posted here >>