Sotheby’s is auctioning off a “lost library” of the Brontë family’s books and papers and among them is Emily Brontë’s never-before-seen handwritten book of poetry—which is likely very sad and made even sadder by her sister Charlotte’s, I’m assuming very mean, marginalia.
This is great news for Emily Brontë superfans—typically other writers named Emily who work in women’s media and don’t understand why other people don’t find a book about incest and corpse sex endlessly delightful—as there isn’t a ton of her work floating around out there, since she died young and had no friends, according to The Guardian:
“Sotheby’s described the manuscript of 29 poems by Emily as “incredibly rare”, valuing it at between £800,000 and £1.2m. “It is the most important manuscript by Emily to come to market in a lifetime, and by far the most significant such manuscript to remain in private hands,” said the auction house. “Almost nothing of Emily’s survived – she essentially wrote Wuthering Heights and then parted the world without a trace. There aren’t even really any letters out there by her, as she had no one to correspond with.”
A few of the poems included have been previously alluded to and subtly dragged as surprisingly good, or at least not as bad as most women’s poetry, by Charlotte Brontë in her introduction to Wuthering Heights:
“I looked it over, and something more than surprise seized me – a deep conviction that these were not common effusions, nor at all like poetry women generally write,” wrote Charlotte. “I thought them condensed and terse, vigorous and genuine. To my ear, they had also a peculiar music – melancholy, and elevating.”
Also included in the auction is the family’s much-used copy of A History of British Birds, which you might remember from Jane Eyre, and which I would do things I’m not proud of to obtain. And lastly, it wouldn’t be Brontë shit without Branwell bitching about how good a writer he could be if he ever felt like it:
“Brother Branwell’s literary ambitions, meanwhile, are revealed in a letter to Hartley Coleridge, son of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “Since my childhood, I have been wont to devote the hours I could spare from other and very different employments, to efforts at literary composition,” Branwell writes, adding that while he is about to “enter active life”, he loves writing “too well to fling aside the practise of it without an effort to ascertain whether I could turn it to account, not in wholly maintaining my self but in aiding my maintenance.” His literary ambitions would not be realised.”