A tiny handwritten manuscript of an early Charlotte Bronte poem has exceeded all expectations at Bonhams' sale of the Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetical Manuscripts and Portrait of Poems in London today (April 10).
The manuscript is for a poem entitled "I've been wandering in the greenwoods", and is barely legible without the aid of a magnifiying glass. It sold for £92,450 ($141,361), rising above its £45,000 high estimate by 105.4%.
The poem is signed C Bronte and dated 14 December 1829, when Charlotte was just 13 years of age. It was first published in the same year in The Young Man's Intelligencer, a journal edited by Charlotte's brother Bramwell, which is also the year that she took over as editor.
The tiny poem is one of just four manuscripts by the Jane Eyre author that remain in private hands, accounting for the generous bids seen in London today. The majority of her works are housed in institutional collections, and are not likely to emerge any time soon.
In 2011, another of Bronte's miniature manuscripts sold for £690,850 ($1m) at Sotheby's. The reason that Charlotte wrote on such small fragments is attributed to the high cost of paper, as well as the fact that all the Bronte children were short sighted, meaning that while they were able to read the tiny writing, their averaged-sighted parents could not.
The Roy Davids Collection is heralded as one of the most important holdings of poetry ever assembled, featuring manuscripts from the world's leading poets. We will bring you more of the latest results from the sale shortly, so be sure to check our Books & Manuscripts section.