Posted on June 1, 2021 at 4:30 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

News services are putting the spotlight on efforts to save literary treasures for public enjoyment.

The New York Times circled back, a year after organizers’ first bid to save the jail where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned, to their efforts to regroup.

Wilde was sent to HM Reading Prison, then known as Reading Gaol, on May 25, 1895, for gross indecency (specifically, sodomy), where he served two years.

Officials in the town of Reading, along with Wilde fans and famous residents of the town, want to turn Reading Prison into a museum and arts center.

The building has been closed since 2013 over health and safety concerns, and its owner — the British Ministry of Justice — said in a statement that it plans to put the property back on the market.

Elsewhere in England, the government’s help is being sought to save a different set of literary treasures: the collection of Brontë memorabilia that is headed to auction.

The Guardian reports that the Brontë Society has written to lawmakers and elected officials across northern England asking that they act to prevent the Honresfield Library from being broken up and swallowed into disparate private collections.

Academics fear that not only may the public lose access to these artifacts, but that private collectors might not store them properly — meaning they could be damaged or destroyed.

Among them: a handwritten manuscript of Emily Brontë’s poems, with pencil edits by Charlotte; the family’s annotated copy of History of British Birds; and “diary notes” Emily and Anne wrote for each other.

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Categories: Today in Books

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