Books | June 19, 2021 2:41 pm

Auction of Brontë Drawings Postponed After Controversy

A fundraising effort for the collection of the Honresfield Library is underway

Statue of the Brontë sisters
A statue of the Brontë sisters.
Immanuel Giel

Well over a century after their deaths, the lives of the Brontë siblings continue to captivate readers around the world. They’ve also inspired writers to revisit the lives of the Brontës in works of both fiction and nonfiction. (And if you’re looking to go even deeper into all things Brontë, there’s also a Brontë-related subplot in Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans’s “goth Jumanji” comic DIE.) All of this interest helps explain why the Brontës’ legacies remain of interest to so many — which can spark controversies when you least expect it.

Writing at The Art Newspaper, Tim Cornwell reports that Sotheby’s recently postponed an auction of the collection of the Honresfield Library. Cornwell writes that the auction was scheduled to include “manuscripts and letters by the Brontës, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Lord Byron.” That includes a pair of portraits that Charlotte Brontë painted at the age of 12.

The report notes that the collection has not been available to the public in 80 years. Now, a group of institutions in England and Scotland are working to raise  £15 million (around $20.7 million) to purchase the collection.

The institutions working together to raise the funds have a goal of purchasing the collection as a whole, rather than seeing individual components sold off. There is also a crowdfunding aspect to it, which speaks of preserving the collection as a national treasure. It’s an unprecedented move — but, given the value of the works included, it’s understandable to see why it’s taking place.