Brontë sisters’ manuscripts saved for nation thanks to £7.5m from UK’s richest man Leonard Blavatnik

 ( )
( )

The country’s richest man has given £7.5 million to help save rare works by the Bronte sisters that were at risk of being sold off.

They are part of a vast private library that has been saved for the nation after a campaign raised £15 million to buy it.

The collection, which also includes works by Jane Austen and Robert Burns, will now be shared by around a dozen institutions across the UK.

The heart of the collection is a set of manuscripts by Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte including letters, diaries and notebooks by the sisters often annotated by each other.

Between them, the sisters wrote some of the greatest works in English literature includes Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights.

Their manuscripts will now be shared between the British Library, a museum in their home town of Haworth and Leeds University.

Known as the Honresfield Library, the 1,400 books and manuscripts were collected at the end of the 19th century by a Lancashire mill owner, William Law, and were largely unknown to the public until their sale was announced by Sotheby’s in May.

The auction house agreed to postpone the sale to allow the Friends of the National Libraries (FNL) to try to raise the money to buy them.

They successfully raised £7.5 million with the country’s richest man Leonard Blavatnik matching that amount ensuring it won’t be sold to private collectors.

A spokesman for FNL said the library would now be known as the Blavatnik Honresfield Library in recognition of the businessman’s “great generosity”.

They said: “It is an extraordinary donation, the largest ever given to the UK by an individual for a literary treasure, safeguarding for the nation the most significant collection of manuscripts and books at risk of dispersal for many decades.”

The Prince of Wales, who is Patron of the FNL, said it was “tremendous news” the world had been saved.

He said: “Our literary heritage is our cultural D.N.A. and this preserves it for students, teachers, academics and ordinary readers in perpetuity.”