Dame Judi Dench is backing the Bronte Parsonage Museum’s bid to buy an “extremely rare” early book written by one of the famed literary siblings.
Charlotte, the oldest of the three sisters, wrote one of her “little books” in 1830 when she was 14. The tiny manuscript, which features three hand-written stories, is one of six written by Charlotte, with five known to survive.
It has been in private hands since it left the Brontes’ home in Haworth, West Yorkshire, following Charlotte’s death at the age of 38 in 1855.
Titled The Young Men’s Magazine, its existence came to light in 2011 when it was auctioned at Sotheby’s, but the Bronte Parsonage Museum, which owns the other four books in the series, was outbid.
Now, the book is up back up for auction where it is expected to sell for at least £650,000 and Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi, president of the Bronte Society, is backing the Museum’s bid to bring it home.
She said: “I have long been fascinated by the little books created by the Brontes when they were children.
“These tiny manuscripts are like a magical doorway into the imaginary worlds they inhabited and also hint at their ambition to become published authors.
Dame Judi Dench is backing the Bronte Parsonage Museum’s bid to buy an ‘extremely rare’ early book written by one of the famed literary siblings (Bronte Parsonage Museum/PA)”It’s very moving to think of 14 year-old Charlotte creating this particular little book at home in Haworth Parsonage and I hope that everyone will help the Bronte Society to bring it back to Yorkshire where it belongs.”
Charlotte, best known for her 1847 classic novel Jane Eyre, wrote The Young Men’s Magazine as a teenager.
The book measures 35mm x 61mm, consists of 20 pages and comprises three stories; A letter From Lord Charles Wellesley, The Midnight Song and Journal Of A Frenchman (continued).
It has a brown paper cover and contains more than 4,000 delicately hand-written words in a meticulously folded and stitched magazine, according to the Museum.
This particular little book 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.
The Museum is asking the public for help in raising funds to buy the book.
Kitty Wright, executive director of The Bronte Society said: “This is the final and public phase of our campaign and we urge lovers of literature everywhere to support us now, so that we can go to the auction with a competitive bid and prevent the little book from disappearing into a private collection.”
The book will be auctioned at Drouot in Paris on Monday November 18.
To support the campaign, visit www.Bronte.org.uk/support-us/donate