Unpublished Charlotte Bronte manuscript up for auction

LONDON - An unpublished manuscript by Charlotte Bronte, the author of “Jane Eyre", could fetch up to £300,000 (S$608,400) when it is auctioned next month, Sotheby’s said Tuesday.

Experts described the manuscript, a miniature magazine written when the author was just 14, as the most important by any of the Bronte sisters to appear at auction in more than 30 years.

“Young Men’s Magazine, Number 2” is dated August 1830 and contains characters who inhabited the imaginary world of Glass Town that Charlotte Bronte and her three siblings created when they were growing up.

It also includes a passage very similar to a scene in “Jane Eyre", the novel Bronte wrote 17 years later, in which the insane wife of the eponymous heroine’s love interest, Mr Rochester, sets fire to his bed curtains.

“Crafted with extraordinary care, this minute manuscript marks Charlotte Bronte’s first burst of creativity and, significantly, provides a rare and intimate insight into one of history’s great literary minds,” said Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s senior books specialist.

“It contains a colourful tale of murder and madness which includes a precursor to one of the most famous scenes in ‘Jane Eyre’ – the moment when Bertha, Mr Rochester’s insane wife, seeks revenge by setting fire to the bed curtains in her husband’s chamber.”

The manuscript includes 19 pages measuring approximately 35 millimetres by 61 millimetres, the original protective red folder and a brown slip-off case with gilt lettering down the spine.

It goes on sale at Sotheby’s in London on December 15 with an estimated price of £200,000-£300,000.