Monday, 30 November 2009

Help raise the funds

News release

The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire has been stunned by news of two auctions in as many weeks, both featuring Brontë treasures of a kind that have not been seen at public auction in many years.

On 4 December, Christies in New York will host an auction of the William E Self library which includes numerous Brontë lots. The most significant of these is an extremely rare first edition of Emily’s only novel, Wuthering Heights. This is the copy owned by her sister Charlotte, who revised the novel for a new edition published after her sister’s death, and contains her pencilled-in corrections. There are also three lively letters from Charlotte Brontë to Henry Nussey, brother of her close friend Ellen Nussey. The letters include Charlotte’s reflections on family, work, the relationship between men and women, and marriage. One of the letters is Charlotte’s response to Nussey’s proposal of marriage. The sale also includes a miniature poetry manuscript produced in childhood by Charlotte.

These lots alone are expected to fetch in the region of $280,000 or £170,000 and the museum is desperately trying to raise funds to ensure that these items are returned to a public collection in the UK and not lost to a private collector.

It’s rare for such significant items to come onto the open market and there’s no doubt that these are items which are of such great significance to our cultural and artistic heritage that they should certainly be thought of as national treasures. It would be very sad indeed if these treasures were not repatriated or were lost to a private collection. We feel that these are things which belong here in Haworth and we’re appealing for people to get in touch if they can help us raise the funds to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Andrew McCarthy

Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum

This will be followed on 17 December by an auction at Sotheby’s in London, which features items from the Law Collection and includes Charlotte’s mahogany writing desk, a pencil drawing by Emily, and an extremely rare surviving personal possession of Emily’s, her artist’s box and geometry set. As an independent charity the museum is constantly trying to raise funds to support its work, a fundamental part of which is seeking to acquire such important Brontë material and making it accessible to the public.

It’s very difficult for us to compete in a market where these items can fetch such high prices and we need the support of organizations and individuals to make sure that they are returned to Haworth where they surely belong. If anyone feels they can make a financial contribution to help us, this would be very much appreciated

Andrew McCarthy

Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum

Click for Daily Telegraph report

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