A BEST-SELLING children's author saw a fortune go up in flames - when he accidentally burnt the original manuscripts of his first book while moving house.

Former vicar Graham Taylor did not realise he had destroyed the original drafts of his book Shadowmancer until he turned the embers on a flickering bonfire.

As he stirred the ashes, he uncovered a scorched page from one of his works.

And when Mr Taylor searched his house, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, he realised to his horror that three drafts were missing.

Yesterday, Mr Taylor admitted the books had become nothing more than "a very expensive pile of ash".

Although he did not want to place a value on the manuscripts - one for his first book Shadowmancer, one of two for his follow-up called Wormwood and a complete version of his new book Tersias - the draft of Shadowmancer alone has been valued at more than £100,000.

Mr Taylor sold his precious motorbike to publish the first 2,500 copies of Shadowmancer.

Many were snapped up by parishioners in Cloughton, near Scarborough, where he worked as the local vicar until deciding to stand down after a heart scare.

These early books are now changing hands for more than £3,000.

But the draft manuscript of Shadowmancer was worth far more because it revealed how the author developed the story and what changes were made to the final narrative.

Shadowmancer has already sold more than 250,000 copies and features in the top ten of children's books in the UK, rivalled only by JK Rowling's Harry Potter stories.