Books

Charlotte Brontë’s $1.25m ‘miniature book’ returns home

What was once mysteriously lost, has now been found and sold. A 15-page miniature book, A Book of Rhymes penned by Charlotte Brontë went under the hammer for a cool $1.25 million.

The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England, once home to the Brontës, announced Monday that A book of Rhymes has been donated to the museum by the Friends of the National Libraries (FLA), a British nonprofit that acquires rare books, and letters of the arts, including manuscripts and memorabilia for cultural organisations. 

The FLA purchased the tiny book for $1.25 million at the Antiquarian Book Fair in New York this month after raising the million-dollar price tag in less than two weeks following the announcement of the miniature books sale. That is some swift go fund me action if ever there was.

Charlotte bronte
Credit: James Cummins Bookseller

The tiny books created by Charlotte Brontë and her siblings as children have long been coveted by Brontë aficionados. Originally created by Brontë at the age of 13 to entertain their toy soldiers, the tiny books — only a few centimetres in size and made from wallpaper and old sugar bags — hold all the markings of the creativity to be found in later classics like Jane Eyre.

Charlotte Brontë was only ten years old when she created the tiny work, A Book of Rhymes, which contains 10 poems. The titles include The Beauty of Nature and On Seeing the Ruins of the Tower of Babel have been previously transcribed by Elizabeth Gaskell in her 1857 biography of Charlotte Brontë.

Other than the titles in the biography, the poems themselves have never before been published. It’s been a long wait since, A Book of Rhymes was last seen at auction in 1916 in New York, where it sold for $520 before vanishing for nearly a decade. Post-auction, who knows, we may yet see the miniature book published for the world to see. 

Charlotte Brontë’s The Book of Rhymes is the last of the more than 24 books created by the Brontës to remain in private hands. Dates for viewing are yet to be scheduled, but you can keep updated via The Brontë Society.