02/03/2012 12:17 GMT | Updated 02/05/2012 06:12 BST

Lost Manuscripts: The Works Of Literature That Could Have Been

We all ache to know what could have been.

If only we'd caught that train, or took that job, or not acquiesced to that last flaming Sambuca... if only, if only.

In the case of some of the world's finest literary talents, the big 'if only' can often refer to the masterpieces they didn't publish - either because they were lost, stolen or burned in a fit of creative frustration.

For before the days of backed up computer files, automatic saves and 'cloud' stored documents, a writer's work was a tangible, vulnerable thing of paper and ink never more than a moment away from disaster.

Here we round up eight examples of the lost or sabotaged manuscripts we'd most be intrigued to discover...

Lost Books