An unpublished 12-line poem by peasant poet John Clare has been sold at auction for more than three times the amount expected.
The verse, in Clare’s own handwriting, sold for £13,750 at Bonhams, in London, on Wednesday,
At 65 words long, it is worth £211 per word.
Before the auction, the poem had been expected to sell for between £3,500 and £4,500.
Sara Blair-Manning, chief executive of the John Clare Trust, said: “I think it is a great indication of how Clare’s work is being received currently and the importance of his work.
“The fact it has gone for three times the expected value indicates that people are very passionate about his work.”
The poem was written by Helpston-born Clare in July 1827 and is addressed to his friend Frank Simpson junior, who was mayor of Stamford from 1853 to 1854.
The verse includes the lines: “Dear Frank against thy Work I place/These dull & feeble verses/& neath thy merits modest light/his dullness half disperses.”
John Clare, who became known as the peasant poet, was born in West Street, Helpston on July 13, 1793 and died at Northampton General Lunatic Asylum on May 20, 1864.
He is now regarded as one of Britain’s most important poets and has a memorial at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
The poem was sold by Oxfordshire collector Roy Davids.