CULTURE & ARTS

Did Any Famous Authors Not Have Lost Manuscripts Discovered In 2015?

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past. Especially when it comes to long-lost manuscripts.

Everyone who is growing up in the Internet age knows all too well that once something is out there, it will never disappear. Charlotte Brontë, who died in 1855, finished all her writing long before the advent of ill-judged Facebook photos or LiveJournal accounts from middle school -- but just last week, a couple pieces of her youthful writing resurfaced, tucked between the pages of a book that had belonged to her mother, Maria.

The Brontë Society, the organization that runs the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England, announced last week they would be acquiring the book and the two pieces of writing inside for about $300,000.

So far, 2015 has seen the rediscovery of a rash of “lost” poems, short stories and fragments, both verified and questionable -- most notably Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, and the previously unpublished Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get?

There must be something in the water.

Often these discoveries are unverifiable, unfinished works not intended for publication, or juvenilia, but for scholars of the authors, every bit of writing could be valuable insight. For the rest of us, well, don’t underestimate the appeal of a famous author’s brand. Hey, how much less interesting could a teenaged Brontë really be?

At least a few of these resurfaced manuscripts probably spent the past decades -- or centuries -- safely buried for a reason. “Nearly every novelist has a shelved novel in his or her closet or desk drawer: Trying out ideas that don’t work out is how writers learn,” wrote Scott Timberg on Salon after Go Set a Watchman was published.

Still, the more influential and brilliant a writer is, the more fun it is to see how their greatest works were drafted, reworked and honed. These are some of the most exciting lost manuscripts to be turned up, or to finally hit the shelves, this year -- here’s to a 2016 full of more literary discoveries!

  • “The Field of Honor" by Edith Wharton
    As with so many so-called lost manuscripts, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/11/discovered-a-lo
    Fotosearch via Getty Images
    As with so many so-called lost manuscripts, Wharton's WWI short fiction was "there all along," as The Atlantic's Megan Garber put it. Assembled from typeset pages, pasted-together stripes of type, and copious marginal notes, the story had languished at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. In true Wharton form, the story focuses on the foibles of Parisian socialites in the absence of the men -- who were, of course, off at war.

    Read it here.
  • "What Pet Should I Get?" by Dr. Seuss
    This previously unpublished picture book <a href="http://www.ew.com/article/2015/07/28/new-dr-seuss-book-what-pet-should-i-ge
    Joe Raedle via Getty Images
    This previously unpublished picture book was actually discovered in 2013, by the widow of Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), in a box. The mostly completed manuscript and illustrations were seen through to publication by Random House art director Cathy Goldsmith, who'd worked with Geisel prior to his death in 1991. It was finally published in July 2015.
  • "Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
    Shelley <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/poetical-essay-on-the-existing-state-of-things-lost
    Print Collector via Getty Images
    Shelley published this anti-war poem in a pamphlet, along with his own preface and notes, in 1811. He was a first-year student at Oxford when he wrote it, but the first lines indicate that it's a fairly mature work of poetry -- and highly political. It was long thought that all copies of the pamphlet had been lost or destroyed, but a surviving pamphlet was found in 2006. Finally, nearly a decade later, it will go on display at the Bodleian Libraries.
  • Untitled poem and short story by Charlotte Brontë
    These two previously undiscovered works&nbsp;are set in Angria, a fictional land invented by Charlotte and her brother, Branw
    Print Collector via Getty Images
    These two previously undiscovered works are set in Angria, a fictional land invented by Charlotte and her brother, Branwell. The story was written when she was 17, and the poem at likely around the same time.
  • "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee
    The publication of <i>Go Set a Watchman</i> sparked widespread controversy, as Lee had not attempted to publish the manuscrip
    Joe Raedle via Getty Images
    The publication of Go Set a Watchman sparked widespread controversy, as Lee had not attempted to publish the manuscript in the previous 55 years since the debut of To Kill a Mockingbird. Many suspected the release of the book was an exploitative money-grab, enabled by Lee's declining health. While the book wasn't as brilliant as Mockingbird, it offered valuable insight into Lee's own conception of the iconic Atticus Finch.
  • "The Early Stories of Truman Capote" by Truman Capote
    Truman Capote's papers, after his death in 1984, were sorted and put to rest at the New York Public Library. But in 2013, an
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    Truman Capote's papers, after his death in 1984, were sorted and put to rest at the New York Public Library. But in 2013, an enterprising editor found some of his juvenile writings -- short stories written in his teens and early 20s -- among the boxes of papers. The stories were collected and published this fall.
  • "Temperature" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    This long-lost short story <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/08/01/427728900/76-years-later-lost-f-scott-fitzgerald-story-sees
    ullstein bild via Getty Images
    This long-lost short story was dug up by Andrew Gulli, who often publishes unearthed manuscripts in his literary magazine The Strand. Buy the issue and rest assured that you'll laugh and you'll cry, in true F. Scott fashion.

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