It is evident that she is passionate about the literary world, having written 17 books.

And Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, was ‘overwhelmed’ yesterday as she examined a collection of manuscripts by Britain’s greatest Victorian novelists and poets, hidden for more than a century.

The MP offered her complete support to a significant fundraising effort to save Honresfield Library.

The collection contains a number of handwritten texts by some of the country’s best-known writers – including Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Charlotte Bronte.

The works had been due to go to auction in July until Sotheby’s agreed to halt the sale to enable the charity Friends of the National Libraries (FNL) to raise the £15million needed to keep the texts on public display in the UK.

Dorries visited the collection at Sotheby's where it is currently being held while FNL fundraise

Dorries visited Sotheby’s collection where it is being held during FNL fundraise

Mrs Dorries said the collection – which includes Sir Walter’s manuscript of Rob Roy and Bronte’s miniature notebooks – were the ‘crown jewels of our literary heritage, capturing the DNA of our island story’ as she emphasised the importance of keeping the works in the public domain.

She said: ‘It’s important everybody from every background has access to this because it will inspire writers of the future, it will inspire kids who think, “Books aren’t for me, writing is not for me,” to see something like that and think, “Wow”.

‘And they’ll get that tingle down their spine, that same buzz when they see it and want to do something themselves. And only if that’s in public ownership will that happen.’

FNL’s ambitious project – the first national arts appeal of its kind – has already raised £7.5million, including £4million of taxpayer money donated by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and more than £116,000 in public donations. The appeal has also been supported by other prominent supporters, including Stephen Fry and Prince Charles, who backed FNL’s campaign in the Daily Mail earlier in the week.

The collection includes very rare handwritten manuscripts by some of Britain's great writers

The collection includes rare handwritten manuscripts written by some of Britain’s most renowned writers

Mrs Dorries was shown texts at Sotheby’s in London yesterday, where the collection is currently being kept. She said she felt ‘incredibly privileged’ to see the works written by the all-time greats and admitted her ‘enthusiasm as a novelist and reader’ was making her ‘tummy flip’. ‘These are the crown jewels of our literary history,’ she said.

FNL will split the works if they are successful in acquiring it. They plan to do so with a consortium of institutions including the National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh), the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Bronte Parsonage museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, and the British Library.

Digitalization can be done to digitalize the unseen manuscripts and letters so that they are easily accessible by young people and schools around the world. Mrs Dorries said that it was ‘really important’ the works were ‘absolutely shared across the country’ enabling access to a wide range of people.

She delighted in seeing the word ‘Haworth’ in Bronte’s own hand, naming the village where the Bronte sisters were brought up. She also held the manuscript of Burns’s Auld Lang Syne.

She was astounded by Sir Walter’s skill – Rob Roy was written in one draft with no corrections –as she confessed she has to ‘rewrite a chapter about 12 times’ in her own novels.

The Culture Secretary added: ‘The fact they’re going to go back to their original roots, going home – it’s amazing. They’re going home and that’s fantastic.

Dorries was joined by Professor Kathryn Sutherland, a Jane Austen expert based at the University of Oxford, to peruse the manuscripts

Dorries was joined by Professor Kathryn Sutherland, a Jane Austen expert based at the University of Oxford, to peruse the manuscripts

‘And everyone can see them. If you live in Yorkshire you don’t have to travel to London to see them. This massive drive by Friends of the National Libraries has the added benefit of levelling up as libraries in Leeds and Scotland, Yorkshire, Hampshire, Oxford, and elsewhere will all benefit. It’s actually emotional, it really is.’

Professor Kathryn Sutherland from the University of Oxford was a Jane Austen expert and explained to Mrs Dorries how the collection would impact the public domain.

She said: ‘This has got to go back on public display. We have so many options for public engagement with this material.

‘It doesn’t matter where it resides because we can collect it together in so many ways and engage with it creatively too.

‘It’s not just saving heritage it’s creative renewal – we can do a lot, we can stimulate a lot of creativity with this among school children.’

Visit for more information about the Friends of the National Libraries and how you can donate to the Honresfield Appeal.