Miniature Bronte manuscript sparks bidding war

Story highlights

  • Parisian museum wins bidding war for unpublished Charlotte Bronte manuscript
  • Bronte's "Young Men's Magazine" was written in 1830 when she was just 14
  • Experts say miniature manuscript is "of huge literary significance"
  • One of the stories it contains is said to prefigure a key scene in "Jane Eyre"

A tiny handwritten and unpublished manuscript by "Jane Eyre" author Charlotte Bronte has sold for $1.07m after it sparked a fierce bidding war between rival museums.

The second issue of Bronte's "Young Men's Magazine" -- written in 1830 when she was just 14 -- smashed pre-sale estimates of $310,000 to $465,000, and set a record for manuscripts by the Bronte sisters.

It contains three stories, written in Bronte's tiny, cramped hand, one of which is said to prefigure the story of Bertha, Mr. Rochester's insane wife in "Jane Eyre."

It was bought by the Musee des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris, where it will go on display in January.

The Bronte Parsonage Museum, in the family's hometown of Haworth, Yorkshire, had earlier launched an appeal to raise money to allow them to buy it, but were outbid in the sale at Sotheby's in London.

Philip Errington, director of the auction house's books and manuscripts department, said the Bronte item was "of huge literary significance."

"The record price set today reflects the international interest in Charlotte Brontë's work.

    "This tiny manuscript represents her first burst of creativity and provides a rare and intimate insight into one of history's great literary minds."

    The Bronte Parsonage Museum already owns four of the six manuscripts in the "Young Men's Magazine" series. The whereabouts of the sixth magazine are unknown.

    Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) and her sisters Emily (1818-1848) and Anne (1820-1849) wrote some of the best-loved novels in the English language, including "Jane Eyre," "Wuthering Heights" and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall."