Works by Emily Brontë and Robert Burns, previously believed to be lost, have re-emerged and will be auctioned at Sotheby’s.
The contents of the “lost” Honresfield Library have been rediscovered after almost a century and will be put up for sale at three separate auctions.
The Brontë poems are expected to reach £1.2m at auction, with one first edition of Wuthering Heights alone fetching between £200,000 and £300,000. Along with the poems and novel, an annotated copy of Bewick’s History of British Birds that belonged to the Brontë family is estimated to go for between £30,000 – £50,000.
Rochdale mill-owners Alfred and William Law were the owners of the collection back in the 1800s and it was passed down to a nephew, also called Alfred, but the collection seemed to disappear after his death in 1939.
“When the library went missing from public view in the 1930s, many assumed it had disappeared, and to now play a role in bringing it to a wider audience is a true career highlight,” Dr Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s English literature and historical manuscripts specialist said.
The collection of more than 500 items includes gems such as:
- Jane Austen first editions, including Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice
- A copy of Don Quixote printed in 1620 for Shakespeare publisher Edward Blounte
- An annotated copy of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poems
- The complete manuscript for Sir Walter Scott’s 19th century novel Rob Roy
- Works from Homer, Ovid, the Grimm Brothers, Montaigne, Ann Radcliffe, Horace Walpole, Charles Dickens and Mary Wollstonecraft.