Haworth's Bronte Socety buys letters for £234,000

Keighley News: Ann Dinsdale Ann Dinsdale

A collection of letters written by 19th century Haworth writer Charlotte Bronte have sold for £234,350 at auction.

The recently-discovered documents, which were expected to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000, were bought by The Bronte Society at yesterday’s sale at Sotheby’s in London.

They will now be returned to the Jane Eyre author’s former home in Haworth, which is now the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

Her closest confidante Ellen Nussey, who she met as a pupil at Roe Head school, Mirfield, in 1831, was the recipient of all but one of the six letters.

Ann Dinsdale, collections manager at the Bronte museum, said: “These are among the most significant Bronte letters to come to light in decades.

“They belong in Haworth and we are delighted that both scholars and members of the public will now have the opportunity to study and enjoy them, either here at the Bronte Parsonage Museum, or through our online resources.”

The first letter, dated not long after the friends left school in 1832, follows Charlotte’s first visit to Ellen’s home and is written in French while the final letter was written to Ellen’s sister, Mrs Clapham, just months before Charlotte died in March 1855.

The six letters were among a collection of more than 350 loaned by Ellen to Charlotte’s biographer Elizabeth Gaskell in 1857, and are quoted in her biography The Life of Charlotte Bronte.

The cache was discovered in a first edition copy of Gaskell’s two-volume biography, from a private collection, which was also included in the lot.

The society was able to buy the lot which, including premiums, went for an unconfirmed total of £234,350, following a £198,450 donation from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

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