The Honresfield Library, Part One

Bidding Opens:

Bidding Opens:

Bidding Opens:

2 July 2021 • 14:00 BST • London

The Honresfield Library, Part One

The Honresfield Library, Part One

The Honresfield Library, Part One

Bidding Opens:

Bidding Opens:

Bidding Opens:

2 July 2021 • 14:00 BST • London

The Honresfield library was assembled by William Law (1836-1901), augmented by his brother Alfred Law (1838-1913) and their nephew Sir Alfred Joseph Law (1860-1939). The library’s cornerstones are world-class holdings of the Brontës, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott, on which is built a remarkable collection with precious highlights venturing well beyond the core of 18th-19th century British literature. It is a library of astonishing riches that has been treasured by generations of a private family for more than a century.


The greatest highlight of this first selection from the Honresfield Library is an autograph manuscript volume of poetry by Emily Brontë. Written in her miniature hand between 1844 and 1846, this slim volume contains 31 poems, many with pencil revisions by her sister Charlotte, and is the sole manuscript witness to many of her greatest poems. Autograph material by Emily Brontë is exceptionally rare. Very little has appeared at auction in recent decades and this is much the most important manuscript to remain in private hands. The sale also includes the finest copy of Emily Brontë’s masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, to have been seen at auction in recent decades: a first edition in original cloth inscribed by the Rev. Patrick Brontë to the family housekeeper Martha Brown. Other Brontë treasures in the sale include the family copy of Bewick’s History of British Birds – the book that brings solace to the lonely young Jane at the beginning of Jane Eyre – and fascinating letters by Branwell Brontë to Hartley Coleridge.  


Jane Austen is represented in the sale by a wonderful early autograph letter signed to her sister Cassandra, written on the eve of a ball where she anticipated a marriage proposal; first editions of Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in publisher’s boards; and other books. There are exceptional autograph manuscripts by Robert Burns, including copies of the poems ‘Cessnock Banks’ and ‘The Brigs of Ayr’, and his only extant letter to his beloved father. Another great strength of the collection is Walter Scott and this sale includes part of the autograph manuscript of The Lay of the Last Minstrel, an exceptional group of first editions in boards, and letters to John Murray (one sending him his famous review of Emma).


William and Alfred Law had a deep interest in earlier English literature, represented here most prominently by a complete copy of Shelton’s translation of Cervantes (1620) and John Heywood’s Woorkes (1566). A 15th century Book of Hours with 15 miniatures is the earliest item in the sale. Beyond these highlights, the sale includes a wide range of fascinating 18th and 19th century books, carefully chosen by a discerning Victorian collector, and often with important earlier provenance and bibliographical significance. 


Bidding Open 2–13 July 2021


New York Travelling Exhibition

4 - 9 June 2021


London Exhibition

10 - 12 July 2021

10am - 5pm Weekdays

12pm - 5pm Weekends


For assistance with bidding and registration, please contact:

+44 207 293 5000 

enquiries@sothebys.com


For all other enquiries please contact:


Gabriel Heaton

Director, Specialist,

Books & Manuscripts

+44 20 7293 5670

Gabriel.Heaton@sothebys.com

Sale number

L21420