Digitization of manuscripts from the Blavatnik Honresfield Library

Digitization of manuscripts from the Blavatnik Honresfield Library

By Catherine Angerson, Curator of Fashionable Archives and Manuscripts.

THE Blavatnik Honresfield Library is a set of books and manuscripts of outstanding historic and literary significance shaped by the Lancashire mill proprietor William Legislation (1836-1901) within the late nineteenth century and maintained by subsequent generations of the household till the sale of the gathering in 2022. The gathering consists of manuscripts and uncommon editions of the work of Jane Austen, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, the Brontë siblings and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Honresfield Home, simply exterior Littleborough close to Rochdale, was the place William Legislation lived together with his brother Alfred, who inherited the gathering after William’s loss of life in 1901. It then handed to a nephew, the Tory MP Sir Alfred Legislation (1860–1939). Choose students gained entry throughout the Nineteen Thirties and transcriptions of a number of of the manuscripts had been made, however the assortment then largely disappeared from public view after Alfred Legislation’s loss of life in 1939.

Blavatnik Honresfield Library was bought for the nation in 2022 by Buddies of Nationwide Libraries with assist from the Blavatnik Household Basis, Nationwide Heritage Memorial Fund and plenty of different beneficiant donors. The gathering has been shared between cultural heritage establishments throughout the UK who’ve all dedicated to creating the objects of their care accessible to the general public.

The British Library was one of many beneficiaries, receiving 102 printed books, 4 manuscript articles and William Maskell’s assortment of books. The manuscript parts have now been digitized and you may entry the photographs by following the hyperlinks beneath.

Pocket book of poems by Emily Brontë, 1844-1846, Add MS 89488, ff. 5v-6r.

One of many highlights of the Blavatnik Honresfield Library is the book of poems by Emily Brontë (Add MS 89488) which she saved between 1844 and 1846. Few of Emily Brontë’s literary manuscripts have survived and the pocket book is an interesting file of her artistic course of. Brontë transcribed cautious copies of 31 of his personal poems into this pocket book, recording the date of unique composition subsequent to every.

The primary poem, ‘Strong without the wind roaring‘, is dated November 11, 1838 when Emily was 20 years previous. She composed the final poem, ‘No loose soul is mine‘, on January 2, 1846 on the age of 27. A few of the poems embrace additional revisions by her sister Charlotte. Underneath the poem ‘As the earth is still beautiful‘ from June 2, 1845, pictured beneath, Charlotte wrote, ‘By no means was higher written’, within the miniature script shared by the 2 sisters.

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Emily Brontë’s poem “How truthful the earth nonetheless is”, composed June 2, 1845, Add MS 89488, f. 17v.

The pocket book is the supply of 15 of the 21 poems by Emily Brontë chosen for Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell (1846). The opposite six poems had been from Emily’s “Gondal Poems” pocket book which she saved on the identical time. Emily Brontë’s personal signed copy of Poems (1846) can be among the many treasures of the Blavatnik Honresfield Library.

One other treasure attributed to the British Library is a miniature guide by Charlotte Brontë titled, “Characters of Famous Men of the Present Day by Captain Tree” (Add MS 89486). The little guide, created by Charlotte when she was simply 13, is likely one of the first seven Brontë manuscripts, now collectively held by the British Library, the Brontë Parsonage Museum and the Brotherton Library on the College of Leeds. The guide is narrated by Captain Tree, considered one of Charlotte’s childhood aliases. It consists of ten chapters which characteristic ‘well-known males’ such because the Duke of Wellington, Lord Charles Wellesley, Captain Bud and Younger Man Naughty. These characters had been drawn from actual life in addition to the fictional world of Glass City. The Glass City Federation was a posh fantasy land created by Charlotte and her siblings Branwell, Emily and Anne.

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Charlotte Brontë, ‘Characters of Well-known Males of the Current Day by Captain Tree’, December 12-17, 1829, Add MS 89486.

The guide measures a tiny 5 x 3.7 cm, the scale of a small matchbox. THE digital pictures help you zoom in on Brontë’s tiny handwriting and study the pages of the manuscript intimately. The pages are barely uneven in measurement. Certainly, Charlotte lower the paper by hand and sewed the pages collectively utilizing needle and thread, and the guide continues to be certain in its unique yellow sugar paper cowl.

The manuscript items attributed to the British Library additionally embrace a letter dated 10 November 1847 from Charlotte Bronte to William Smith Williams of Smith, Elder & Co., the writer of Jane Eyre (1847) (Add MS 89487). On this letter, Brontë (utilizing his pseudonym “C. Bell”) complains in regards to the “exhausting delay and procrastination” his sisters Emily (“Ellis”) and Anne (“Acton”) needed to endure in publishing their novels by Thomas Newby. Emily Brontë’s solely novel The Wuthering Heights and the primary novel by Anne Brontë Agnes Grey had been each printed by Newby in December 1847 shortly after Charlotte wrote this letter.

Along with the Brontë manuscripts described above, the British Library has additionally obtained two sheets of the manuscript of by Walter Scott Kenilworth (Add MS 89485), a novel of intrigue and deception set in Elizabethan England. These manuscript pages had been a part of the manuscript Scott despatched to printer John Ballantyne for publication of the novel in January 1821. The library additionally holds many of the manuscript of Kenilworth and two different leaves acquired in 2017.

The manuscripts have been totally digitized and the photographs are accessible through the catalog of archives and manuscripts and thru the hyperlinks on this blogpost. The printed parts are described within the main catalog and will be recognized by the score prefix “Hon”. See our new collection guide for extra particulars.

A small choice of books and manuscripts from the Blavatnik Honresfield Library is at present on show on the Gallery of treasures on the British Library in London (till February 19, 2023). The show features a sheet of Walter Scott’s Kenilworth manuscript, Charlotte Brontë’s letter to WS Williams, Emily Brontë’s poetry pocket book and her personal copy of Poems (1846) and two of the collections within the Maskell assortment.

We’re excited to be working with the Brontë Parsonage Museum and the Brotherton Library to make Brontë’s materials obtainable to new audiences (on-line and in exhibition) over the months and years to come back.




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