1 Mar 2013
The manuscript of Charlotte Brontë's poem, I've been wandering in the greenwoods, written when she was just 13, is to be sold on 10 April in Part I of the sale of The Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at Bonhams, New Bond Street. It is estimated at £40,000 - 45,000.
The poem is signed C Brontë and dated by her 14 December 1829. It is written on a small slip of paper 3x3 inches in size and cannot be read easily without a magnifying glass. Although Charlotte Brontë wrote around 200 poems, the vast majority of the manuscripts are in institutions. There are perhaps no more than four in private hands, making this poem extremely rare.
The Brontë children were famously precocious and started writing at an early age, producing literary magazines for their private enjoyment. I've been wandering in the greenwoods appeared in The Young Man's Intelligencer which had been edited by Charlotte's brother Branwell until 1829 when she took over the editor's chair. The printed version of the poem is based on this manuscript with some minor grammatical variations.
All the Brontë children wrote in a tiny hand probably because paper was expensive and in short supply. They were also short sighted so, while they would have been able to see what they were writing, their work would have been illegible to their father and their aunt who lived with the family following the death of their mother in 1821.
Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets, is the fruit of 40 years of collecting by the poet and scholar Roy Davids and is the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction. In Mr David's own words, "it would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com