A previously unknown manuscript by Bengali poet and Nobel Literature Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore is expected to fetch up to $250,000 when it is auctioned next month in New York.
Rabindranath's 1928 notebook contains 12 poems and lyrics for 12 songs in Bengali, some of which were drafts for works that were published later, according to Sotheby's.
Marsha Malinowski, the auction house's senior manuscript specialist, described the notebook, which is covered in red cloth and will be auctioned on Dec. 13, as in gorgeous condition. It has been preserved very well, she said, adding that it had been kept in a safe deposit box since the 1950s.
Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize in 1913 and became the first Asian Noble Laureate, kept the diaries when he traveled, according to Malinowski. But in her 25 years at the auction house, she said it was the first time she had come across anything connected to Tagore, who won global fame as a poet, novelist, playwright, composer and artist.
Tagore presented the 152-page notebook to a family friend who was also an early patron in the mid-1930s. Thirty four pages of the notebook contain writing.
It really is a microcosm of what Tagore did best - his poetry, what he loved and what he loved to do, said Malinowski. To have bits of art with corrections, to have songs with lyrics, and emendations all done in such an artistic form makes for an amazing package and speaks to what he was all about, she added.
Sotheby's said it expects the notebook, which will be exhibited in New York before the sale, to appeal strongly to members of the Indian community, for whom Tagore is a hero.
Tagore campaigned for the Indian nationalist movement, wrote the national anthems for both India and Bangladesh and was a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi. He was knighted by the British government in 1915, but gave back the honor four years later to protest against British policies in India. He died in 1941.
Other potential bidders are expected to include collectors of rare literature or those who feel a special connection with Tagore. The owner, a descendant of one of Tagore's patrons, was motivated to sell the manuscript by a combination of strong prices drawn by Tagore paintings in London last year and the 150th anniversary of his birth.
The New York Asia Society is staging an exhibition of Tagore's work which runs through Dec. 31.