Before Charlotte Brontë wrote her best-known work, Jane Eyre, the budding author was fond of self-publishing. As a teen, Brontë wrote and bound palm-sized books, ostensibly for the perusal of the toy soldiers Charlotte and siblings Emily, Anne, and Branwell had in their home. Now, one long believed to be lost has surfaced—and the price for reading the last of Brontë’s unseen poems could be as much as $1.25 million.
New York book dealer James Cummins Bookseller has announced [PDF] that they’ve come into possession of the tiny book titled A Book of Ryhme’s [sic]. The hand-bound tome is comprised of 10 poems across 15 pages and is dated December 1829, when Brontë was 13 years old.
“The following are attempts at rhyming of an inferior nature it must be acknowledged but they are nevertheless my best,” Brontë wrote.
According to the bookseller’s press release, the tome has not been seen since 1916, when it sold for $520. It’s considered the last of Brontë’s manuscripts to be in private hands. The owner is remaining anonymous at their request: The asking price is $1.25 million, with the sale being handled by both Cummins and London-based Maggs Bros.
It’s expected that whomever takes possession of the book will permit its contents to be recorded for posterity. Previous “tiny books” have wound up in the possession of institutions like the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which purchased one designed to look like a literary magazine in 2019 for nearly $800,000.
A Book of Ryhme’s will be on display at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair on April 21, Brontë’s birthday.
[h/t The New York Times]