Charlotte Bronte, a 19th century English novelist and poet, apparently means more to France than Great Britain. A French museum aced out the Bronte museum in England for a rare manuscript written by the author.
“This is unquestionably the most significant Bronte manuscript to come to light in years and an important part of our broader literary heritage,” said Bronte museum Director Andrew McCarthy.
The sale price was an auction record for a manuscript by any of the three Bronte sisters. It sold for $1.1 million, about twice the pre-sale estimate, according to Sotheby’s.
The 1830 booklet, designed to be held in the palm of a hand, contains more than 4,000 words in miniature letters on 19 pages, which measure less than 1.5×2.5 inches.
It was sold following what Sotheby’s terms a “tense bidding battle.”
In the end, La Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris prevailed and intends to display the manuscript next year.
The literary family’s former home in northern England, now known as The Bronte Parsonage Museum, was hoping to add the booklet to a collection of four that it already owns.
“It belongs in Haworth and we are bitterly disappointed that scholars and members of the public may now not have the opportunity to study and enjoy it as part of our public collection,” McCarthy told reporters.
Six booklets, titled “Young Men’s Magazines,” were thought to exist, but the whereabouts of the final manuscript is unknown.
Bronte, who authored 19th century classic “Jane Eyre,” wrote the booklet when she was 14.
Charlotte’s younger sister Emily Bronte, who wrote “Wuthering Heights” also penned a booklet about the fantasy world of “Glass Town.”
The booklets are believed to be their earliest fictional works.
“This tiny manuscript represents [Bronte’s] first burst of creativity and provides a rare and intimate insight into one of history’s great literary minds,” said Philip Errington, Sotheby’s specialist in books and manuscripts.