October 28, 2019

Dame Judi Dench is funding a museum’s £650,000 bid for a Charlotte Bronte manuscript


Actress Dame Judi Dench arrives at The Orange British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House on February 11 (Caroline Bonarde Ucci, CC BY 3.0)

Dame Judi Dench is putting her money to good use: she’s funding the Bronte Parsonage Museum’s attempt to purchase a rare book written by Charlotte Bronte when she was a teen. 

The BBC reports that one of Bronte’s “little books”—literally little; we’re talking 35mm x 61mm trim and only 20 pages—is up for auction. And the Bronte Parsonage Museum wants it—they were outbid back in 2011—but it’s not going to be cheap: it’s projected to sell for at least £650,000. That’s where Dame Judi Dench comes in. 

York-born actress Dame Judi, who is president of the Bronte Society, said: “I have long been fascinated by the little books created by the Brontes when they were children.

“These tiny manuscripts are like a magical doorway into the imaginary worlds they inhabited, and also hint at their ambition to become published authors.”

Charlotte Bronte, whom we all know and love as the author of Jane Eyre (fun fact, Judi Dench played Mrs. Fairfax in the 2011 movie adaptation) wrote this “little book” in 1830, when she was 14. It features three hand-written stories, and is named The Young Man’s Magazine.

The museum already owns the four other remaining of the little manuscripts (Charlotte wrote six in total, but only five survive). They’ll try to complete their collection in November, with the help of Dame Judi Dench. Reader, I hope they win.



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.