‘Lost library’ including 29 handwritten poems by Emily Brontë with pencil corrections by her sister Charlotte goes up for auction

  • Poems part of Honresfield Library – private collection of more than 500 works
  • Emily’s manuscript are expected to achieve between £800,000 and £1.2million 
  • Sotherby’s will be holding three separate auctions in New York from June 5 to 9

A ‘lost library’ of manuscripts including 29 handwritten poems by Emily Brontë as well as works by Robert Burns has gone up for auction.

The materials are part of The Honresfield Library, a private collection of more than 500 works largely unseen for nearly a century, being sold by Sotherby’s.

The auctioneer, who will be holding three separate auctions in New York from June 5 to 9, described Emily’s manuscript as ‘incredibly rare’ and expect it to achieve between £800,000 and £1.2million. 

A ‘lost library’ of manuscripts including 29 handwritten poems by Emily Brontë as well as works by Robert Burns has gone up for auction


The materials are part of The Honresfield Library, a private collection of more than 500 works largely unseen for nearly a century, being sold by Sotherby’s 

Speaking about Emily’s works, which were annotated in pencil by her sister Charlotte, Sotherby’s told The Guardian: ‘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. 

‘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 features a range of other literary gems including the Brontë family’s heavily-annotated copy of A History of British Birds by Thomas Bewick – a book which features in the opening scenes of Jane Eyre.

It will be auctioned with a guide price of between £30,000 and £50,000.

The library also includes manuscripts of Walter Scott’s Rob Roy as well as a  compendium of poems, notes and personal letters by Scottish bard Robert Burns.

The collection was compiled from the 1890s by Rochdale mill-owners Alfred and William Law.

The brothers later died without having married before the works were passed to a nephew – also called Alfred.

He granted access to a select group of scholars but after his death in 1939 the original collection faded from public view.  

Exhibitions of the collection are planned in London, New York and Edinburgh ahead of the sale.

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