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  1. ITV Report

Charlotte Bronte's miniature book 'returns home' for £511,000

  • Video report by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar

The Bronte Society has purchased an "extraordinary" book written by one of the famed literary siblings at auction for just over £511,000.

The book, by a teenage Charlotte Bronte, went under the hammer at the Drouot auction house in Paris, fetching 600,000 euros (£511,885) plus auction costs.

Charlotte, the oldest of the three sisters, wrote this in 1830 - 17 years before she wrote her greatest work, Jane Eyre.

One of her "little books" was hand-written when she was 14 and five others are known to have survived.

One of Charlotte Bronte's book's which was hand-written. Credit: ITV News

But what the miniature manuscript lacks in size, it more than makes up for in historic importance.

Curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Ann Dinsdale, said: "I think it tells us that the Bronte's are hugely popular and continue to inspire writers and artists today."

"The little books are among the most inspiring and iconic in the museum collection and also they chart the development of Charlotte as a writer," she added.

A curator at the Brontë Parsonage Museum said the books are iconic. Credit: ITV News

She added: "One of the stories is about a murderer who's haunted by their victims and maybe it's guilt but a tremendous fire ignites in his head which sets fire to his bed curtains and that is very reminiscent of that famous scene in Jane Eyre where Rochester's bed catches fire and is rescued by Jane."

The society's success - backed by its president, Dame Judi Dench - will see the book returned to the Bronte family home, now the Bronte Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, West Yorkshire.

Historian Kate Williams said: "It's so magical, this little book is a magical insight into Charlotte Bronte, and the genesis of a genius because she was just 14 and 17 years later she had published Jane Eyre."

Historian Kate Williams described the Bronte book as 'magical'. Credit: ITV News

Ms Williams added: "And in this little book, this tiny playbook we see the mind of a woman who would one day create one of the greatest, perhaps for some the greatest novel in English Literature."

The sale came after a four-week campaign and support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the John R Murray Charitable Trust and the Pilgrim Trust, among other organisations.

Titled 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.

It had been in private hands since it left the Brontes' home in Haworth following Charlotte's death at the age of 38 in 1855.