Leeds & West Yorkshire

Dame Judi Dench backs bid for £650,000 Bronte 'little book'

Charlotte Bronte little book Image copyright Bronte Museum
Image caption The book by Charlotte Bronte is expected to fetch about £650,000 at auction

Dame Judi Dench is backing the Bronte Parsonage Museum's bid to buy a rare early book written by one of the famed literary sisters.

Charlotte, the eldest of the three sisters, wrote one of her "little books" in 1830 when she was 14.

The tiny manuscript, which features three hand-written stories, is one of six written by Charlotte, with five known to survive.

Now the book is up for auction and is expected to sell for at least £650,000

The book has been in private hands since it left the Brontes' home in Haworth, West Yorkshire, following Charlotte's death in 1855 at the age of 38.

Called The Young Men's Magazine, its existence came to light in 2011 when it was auctioned at Sotheby's, but the Bronte Parsonage Museum, which owns the other four books in the series, was outbid.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dame Judi is leading the campaign to secure the book

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

"These tiny manuscripts are like a magical doorway into the imaginary worlds they inhabited, and also hint at their ambition to become published authors."

Image copyright Bronte Museum
Image caption The book is due to be auctioned in November

Charlotte, best known for her 1847 classic novel Jane Eyre, wrote The Young Men's Magazine as a teenager.

The book measures 35mm x 61mm, consists of 20 pages and has three stories: A letter From Lord Charles Wellesley, The Midnight Song and Journal Of A Frenchman (continued).

Part of it describes a murderer driven to madness after being haunted by his victims, and how "an immense fire" burning in his head causes his bed curtains to set alight.

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 book will be auctioned in Paris on 18 November.

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