Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 16:49 UK

Byron letters go up for auction

Lord Byron
This picture of Lord Byron dates from around 1807, when he was 19

A collection of letters written by Lord Byron, including many that have never been published, is to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London next month.

The letters are part of a collection of books and manuscripts up for sale from the library of former Prime Minister, the fifth Earl of Rosebery.

The letters, written to Byron's close friend Francis Hodgson, discuss many topics including love and poetry.

The Byron letters alone are estimated to fetch between £150,000 and £180,000.

The letters often contain material which was controversial at the time, including Byron's feelings on religion: "We are miserable enough in this life, without the absurdity of speculating on another."

The entire collection from the Earl of Rosebery's family library is expected to raise in excess of £600,000 when it goes up for auction on 29 October.

It also includes a first edition copy of Lieutenant William Bligh's account of his well-known mutiny on the Bounty.

Double the estimate

Byron letters
Many of the letters have not been explored for more than 100 years

A presentation copy of Samuel Taylor Colderidge's Aids to Reflection in the Formation of a Manly Character on the Several Grounds of Prudence, Morality and Religion, is expected to fetch between £10,000 and £12,000.

The text sets out the writer's vision of Christianity as a "personal revelation".

The collection also includes some rare atlases - John Speed's The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain... Together with a Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World, 1676, is estimated at between £50,000 to £60,000.

Archibald Philip Primrose, the fifth Earl of Rosebery, was Prime Minister from 1894 to 1895 following two spells as Foreign Secretary in Gladstone's government.

In 1995, Sotheby's sold 500 volumes from the Earl's library for a total of £1,551,452, almost double the pre-sale estimate of £800,000.



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