Sydney: A collection of letters written by the legendary Don Bradman more than 70 years ago will stay in Australia at the Bradman Museum after a flood of donations from the public.
The museum, in Bowral, southern New South Wales, paid almost $13,000 for the collection at an auction held here on Tuesday.
Bradman wrote the letters to friend Bert Kortlang, a former Victorian Sheffield Shield cricketer, while on the Ashes tour of England in 1930 — his first tour overseas.
The collection of seven letters was knocked down for a total of $11,900.
Several other items, including programmes, press passes and Christmas cards from Bradman and wife Jessie were also sold at the auction.
Bradman Museum curator Richard Mulvaney said donations from the public had enabled the museum to be able to purchase the letters.
The museum had originally said it could not afford the letters, but Mulvaney said the generosity of the public made it possible for the museum to make the purchase.
“I did not think that we would be in a position to find the financial resources to be able to be a bidder in this auction tonight,” Mulvaney said.
“A number of people contacted the museum and felt that the letters rightly should be placed in the museum, and so basically the people of Australia have bought these letters,” he said.
In the letters, Bradman mentions a woman called Nina and asks Kortlang, who lived in London at the time, to help him arrange a meeting with her.
Nina’s identity is a mystery, but Bonham’s Goodman auctioneer Giles Moon said he did not think there was anything untoward going on between her and Bradman, who married Jessie the following year.
Mulvaney said he did not know who Nina was, but that the letters revealed a previously unseen side of Bradman.
“I think there is a focus on the private lives of our celebrities and sportsmen that is not entirely healthy,” he said. “We are not saying Don Bradman was perfect.
He was a young man on his first trip overseas, so what’s the fuss'”
The letters were placed up for auction by Bradman’s goddaughter Jan Steele.