By Lori Perkins
Only two people alive today have ever seen the collection of 29 hand-written Emily Bronte poems that Sotheby’s is auctioning in July, according to The Guardian. That’s because the lot was sold to a private collector (and forger) after all the Bronte’s had passed (six in all). The lot, which includes other Bronte manuscripts from the entire Bronte family, disappeared from public view in 1939.
Sotheby’s described the collection of poems as “incredibly rare,” valued at between $1.1 million and $1.67 million. “It is the most important manuscript by Emily to come to market in a lifetime, and by far the most significant such manuscript to remain in private hands,” according to Sotheby’s. “Almost nothing of Emily’s survived – she essentially wrote Wuthering Heights and then parted the world without a trace. There aren’t even really any letters out there by her, as she had no one to correspond with.”
The collection of poems is the only surviving handwritten manuscript to feature some of Emily’ Bronte’s most famous poems, including “No Coward Soul Is Mine,” “The Bluebell” and “The Old Stoic.”
The hand-written manuscript was mentioned by Charlotte Bronte in her 1850 preface to Wuthering Heights, when she noted how she “accidentally lighted on a MS volume of verse in my sister Emily’s handwriting. I looked it over, and something more than surprise seized me – a deep conviction that these were not common effusions, nor at all like poetry women generally write,” wrote Charlotte. “I thought them condensed and terse, vigorous and genuine. To my ear, they had also a peculiar music – melancholy, and elevating.”