The Brontë Society said yesterday it was "bitter disappointed" one of the literary family's most significant treasures discovered in years has been snapped up by a French museum for a record sum.
The important Charlotte Brontë miniature manuscript will go on show in Paris and will not be returning to the writer's home in Haworth, West Yorkshire, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, despite raising more than £650,000 to keep the find in Britain.
The manuscript, which went under the hammer at Sotheby's in London yesterday, was previously untraced and unpublished.
It was expected to fetch between £200,000 and £300,000, but was sold to The Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris for a record £690,850.
The miniature manuscript measures just 35 x 61mm, but its 20 pages contain more than 4,000 words of tiny script, produced by Charlotte in September 1830 when she was 14.
Parsonage Museum Museum Director Andrew McCarthy said: "This is an important part of our broader literary heritage. We are bitterly disappointed that scholars and the public may now not have the opportunity to study and enjoy it as part of our collection."