The Bronte Society has purchased an “extraordinary” book written by one of the famed literary siblings at auction for just over £511,000.
The book, by a teenage Charlotte Bronte, went under the hammer at the Drouot auction house in Paris, fetching 600,000 euros (£511,885) plus auction costs.
The society’s success – backed by its president, Dame Judi Dench – will see the book returned to the Bronte family home, now the Bronte Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, West Yorkshire.
Auctioneers had predicted that the book, which features three hand-written stories, could sell for up to 800,000 euros (£682,548).
Charlotte, the oldest of the three sisters, wrote one of her “little books” in 1830 when she was 14, with five others known to have survived.
The sale came after a four-week campaign and support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the John R Murray Charitable Trust and the Pilgrim Trust, among other organisations.
The society also raised more than £85,000 from some 1,000 supporters through its first Crowdfunder campaign.
Executive director of the Bronte Society Kitty Wright said: “We were determined to do everything we could to bring back this extraordinary ‘little book’ to the Bronte Parsonage Museum and now can’t quite believe that it will in fact be coming home to where it was written 189 years ago.
“We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from people from all over the world backing our campaign and can’t wait to have it in place with the others and on public view to the world.”
Principal curator at the Bronte Parsonage Museum Ann Dinsdale said: “That this unique manuscript will be back in Haworth is an absolute highlight of my 30 years working at the museum.
“Charlotte wrote this miniscule magazine for the toy soldiers she and her siblings played with and, as we walk through the same rooms they did, it seems immensely fitting that it is coming home and we would like to say an enormous thank you to everyone who made it possible.”
We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from people from all over the world, Kitty Wright, The Bronte Society
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.
It had been in private hands since it left the Brontes’ home in Haworth following Charlotte’s death at the age of 38 in 1855.