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Rare Charlotte Bronte book coming home after the museum's auction success



The Young Men MagazineImage copyright
Reuters

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The book by Charlotte Bronte slipped through the museum's fingers eight years ago

A book written by Charlotte Bronte at age 14 returns home after being purchased by the Bronte Society at an auction in Paris.

The miniature work, called The Young Men Magazine, will go to the Priest Museum in Bronte's old home in Haworth, West Yorkshire.

It was purchased for € 600,000 (£ 512,970) following a fundraising campaign by the Bronte Society, which runs the museum.

The museum lost the book when it last went under the hammer in 2011.

The total price including the buyer's premium was € 780,000 (£ 666,790).

The work is one of six "little books" written by Charlotte, the oldest of the three sisters, in 1830. Five are known to survive, and the Bronte pastor's museum already has the other four.

The works were created for Charlotte & # 39; s toy soldiers and document an imaginary world created by the family called Glass Town.

Charlotte is best known for her classic novel Jane Eyre from 1847.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Charlotte Bronte captured by artist George Richmond

Kitty Wright, executive director of The Bronte Society, said: "We were determined to do everything we could to return this extraordinary" little book "to the Bronte Pastor Museum and now can't really believe it will actually come home where it was written. 189 years ago.

"We have really been overwhelmed by the exclusion of support from people from all over the world who support our campaign and can't wait to have it in place with the others and in the general view of the world."

"An absolute highlight"

The museum's curator Ann Dinsdale added that the "unique manuscript" back to Haworth was an "absolute highlight" of her 30-year career in the arena.

"Charlotte wrote this miniscule magazine for the toy soldiers she and her siblings played with and as we walk through the same room as they did, it seems incredibly fitting that it comes home and we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who made it possible."

Part of Young Men's Magazine describes a killer driven to madness after being haunted by his victims, and how "a huge fire" burning in his head causes his bed curtains to light.

Experts at the museum say this section of the story is "a clear precursor" of a famous scene between Bertha and Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, which Charlotte would publish 17 years later.

The community said more than 1,000 people had promised money to buy the book. Several celebrities, including Dame Judi Dench, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Tracy Chevalier, supported the community's efforts to raise money.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Dame Judi Dench led a campaign to raise money to secure the book for the Bronte Pastor Museum

York-born Dame Judi, president of the Bronte Society, said earlier this year: "I have long been fascinated by the little books that Brontes created when they were children.

"These little manuscripts are like a magical doorway to the imaginary worlds they inhabited and also indicate their ambition to become published writers."

The existence of the book that went on sale – measuring 35 mm x 61 mm and consisting of 20 pages – emerged in 2011 when it was auctioned at Sotheby's.

The Bronte community is overrun by a discredited investment system that is no longer in operation. The system is run by Gérard Lhéritier and his company Aristophil, who set up the Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris.

Lhéritier saw the potential financial rewards in rare works like the Bronte book, so bought and filled his museum with them. His company was accused of selling shares in a Ponzi-style pyramid scheme, based on false advertising and illusionary market values.

About 18,000 people in France are believed to have become fraudsters in what went on to become one of the largest art markets ever, after investing nearly € 1 billion. The company behind it was shut down by regulators in 2014.

According to The Art Newspaper, the French government is trying to recover hundreds of public records that should never have been sold and a criminal investigation is underway.

Lhéritier denies all charges.

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