Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
A press release from Bonhams 1793 gives the astonishing results of today's auction of manuscript poems, including one by Charlotte Brontë. It has been sold by more than double the original estimate of £45000:
The last known manuscript poem by John Keats sold for a world record £181,250 today (10 April) at the sale of the first part (Poets A-K) of Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at Bonhams, New Bond Street.
Charlotte Bronte's I've been wandering in the greenwoods, written when she was just 13 also set a world record for the poet when it sold for £92,450.
Today's sale made £940,000 in total. The second part, (Poets L-Y) will take place at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 8 May. (...)
The Bronte is written on a small slip of paper 3x3 inches in size and cannot be read easily without a magnifying glass. Although Charlotte Brontë wrote around 200 poems, the vast majority of the manuscripts are in institutions making this poem extremely rare. The previous record for a Charlotte Bronte poem at auction was £62,500 in 2009.
Alison Flood in The Guardian adds:
A minuscule handwritten poem by Charlotte Brontë, composed when the author was just 13, has been sold for almost £100,000.
Signed C Brontë, and dated by her on 14 December 1829, "I've been wandering in the greenwoods" is written on a piece of paper measuring just three inches square, and is difficult to read without a magnifying glass. Charlotte and her siblings all wrote in a tiny hand, to make the most of a scarce and expensive paper supply, but they were also short-sighted, so would have been able to see what they were writing themselves, even it was illegible to others.
The manuscript was sold by Bonhams as part of the collection of the poet and scholar Roy Davids: it had been given an estimated sale price of £40,000-£45,000, but went for more than double that, selling for £92,450. The Brontë poem, said the auction house, is "extremely rare", because although the author would go on to write around 200 poems, the "vast majority" are in institutions, with "perhaps no more than four" in private hands.
"I've been wandering in the greenwoods" is a celebration of nature, with the precocious young poet elaborating on how she has "been to the distant mountain,/ To the silver singing rill/ By the crystal murmering mountain,/ And the shady verdant hill." It appeared in a printed version in the literary magazine The Young Man's Intelligencer, which was produced by the Brontë children for their own enjoyment. Charlotte took over as editor from her brother Branwell in 1829.
BBC News says that the buyer was an anonymous overseas bidder:
Auctioneers Bonhams said the manuscript had been bought by an unknown buyer from abroad.
Luke Batterham, a valuer at Bonhams, said it had attracted a huge amount of interest from around the world.
"It's a very attractive and sought after item so I'm not overly surprised that it sold at that price," he said.
Ms Brontë wrote the poem at her home in Haworth, West Yorkshire. It is signed C Brontë and dated 14 December 1829.
The poem was published in a family literary magazine, which she was editing at the time. Her brother and sisters also contributed to the publication.
"Poetical manuscripts by Brontë are rare, and it is even rarer that any are offered at auction, only two others being traced as offered in the past 40 years," said Mr Batterham.
He said the manuscript illustrated Brontë's "burgeoning literary ambitions".
"When looked at such manuscripts put you right in the middle of this extraordinary family," he said.
"Charlotte, through her writing and the romance of her story, is enormously popular in Britain, America and all over the world so the interest in her manuscripts is great, both with private collectors and institutions.
Many news outlets publish the results of the auction: The Telegraph & Argus, The Australian, Oh No They Didn't, The Mary Sue, EDIT: In-Folio (in Italian), Keighley News, Los Angeles Times' Jacket Copy, ActuaLitté (in French), The Times, The New Yorker, The Cristian Science Monitor, Pravda (Slovakia)...

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