A miniature unpublished manuscript written by Charlotte Brontë when she was 13 years old will go on sale for $1.25 million at a New York City book fair later this month.
The work titled “A Book of Ryhmes by Charlotte Brontë, Sold by Nobody, and Printed by Herself” is smaller than a playing card — yet it holds a literary treasure of 10 poems by the “Jane Eyre” author.
The manuscript, dated December 1829, has not been seen publicly since it was sold in New York in 1916, according to Henry Wessells, an associate at James Cummins Bookseller. It was recently found in a private collection, he said.
Stitched together in its original brown paper covers, the 15 pages tell tales involving the “sophisticated imaginary world” of Brontë and her siblings, according to a press release from the dealers.
“They wrote adventure stories, dramas, and verse in hand-made manuscript books filled with tiny handwriting intended to resemble print,” the release says.
Charlotte Brontë Credit: Reuters
Cummins along with Maggs Bros are the two dealers selling the work at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair on April 21 at the Park Avenue Armory.
“The manuscript was last in the public eye in 1916, and we all love the story of an unexpected survival,” Wessells told CNN in an email. “Now the owner wishes to ensure that it is preserved for future generations, and, ultimately, made available to scholarship.”
Wessells described the manuscript as “a beautiful little thing” that was carefully put together from household scraps of paper and sewn with the original thread.
“The following are attempts at rhyming of an inferior nature it must be acknowledged but they are nevertheless my best,” Bronte writes on the manuscript’s title page. And at the end of the book, she asserts creative control over the imaginary world created by herself and siblings.
A shot of the “Book of Ryhmes,” which contains a 13-year-old Charlotte Brontë’s spelling of the word “rhymes.” Credit: Courtesy of James Cummins Bookseller
“Just think of the Brontë children telling and writing stories among themselves, learning at home in a remote village, and then blossoming, briefly, to write the books that have been read by millions ever since, and also leaving behind hand-made things such as this manuscript,” said Wessells, who marveled at how the book survived over the past century.
Brontë and her sisters Emily and Anne wrote some of the best-loved novels in the English language, including “Jane Eyre” (1847), “Wuthering Heights” (1847) and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” (1948).