Cover image for The letters of Charlotte Brontë : with a selection of letters by family and friends
The letters of Charlotte Brontë : with a selection of letters by family and friends
Brontë, Charlotte, 1816-1855.
Uniform Title:
Correspondence. Selections
Physical Description:
3 volumes : illustrations ; 25 cm
v. 1. 1829-1847 -- v. 2. 1848-1851 -- v. 3. 1852-1855.
Added Author:


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR4168 .A44 1995 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
PR4168 .A44 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
PR4168 .A44 1995 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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`Men don't seem to understand making letters a vehicle of communication - they always seem to think us uncautious. I'm sure I don't think I have said anything rash - however you must burn it when read.' Despite the request, Charlotte Bronte's lifelong friend Ellen Nussey probably burnt verylittle of her correspondence, and in this edition, based as far as possible on original manuscripts, many confidential and outspoken letters are published in full for the first time. The present volume includes letters from Charlotte's childhood (the first written to her father in September 1829), and takes the reader up to the publication and review of Jane Eyre (1847). Early editions depended largely on bowdlerized or inaccurate copies, and even the much improved ShakespeareHead edition of 1932 suffered from limited access to manuscripts, owing to the nefarious activities of T. J. Wise. Since 1932 many more manuscripts have become available, and the present edition includes new letters, previously unpublished passages censored by Ellen Nussey or Mrs Gaskell, and fullannotation. As well as Charlotte's own letters, a handful of important letters by friends and family relating to her or illuminating her correspondence are included, along with extracts from the diaries of Emily and Anne Bronte, Ellen Nussey, and Charlotte's rejected suitor Henry Nussey. The fullIntroduction includes an illuminating account of the early publication history of the letters, and biographical material on the main correspondents. Of particular interest in the notes to this volume are the extensive quotations from early reviews of Jane Eyre.

Author Notes

Charlotte Bronte, the third of six children, was born April 21, 1816, to the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell Bronte in Yorkshire, England. Along with her sisters, Emily and Anne, she produced some of the most impressive writings of the 19th century. The Brontes lived in a time when women used pseudonyms to conceal their female identity, hence Bronte's pseudonym, Currer Bell.

Charlotte Bronte was only five when her mother died of cancer. In 1824, she and three of her sisters attended the Clergy Daughter's School in Cowan Bridge. The inspiration for the Lowood School in the classic Jane Eyre was formed by Bronte's experiences at the Clergy Daughter's School. Her two older sisters died of consumption because of the malnutrition and harsh treatment they suffered at the school. Charlotte and Emily Bronte returned home after the tragedy.

The Bronte sisters fueled each other's creativity throughout their lives. As young children, they wrote long stories together about a complex imaginary kingdom they created from a set of wooden soldiers. In 1846, Charlotte Bronte, with her sisters Emily and Anne published a thin volume titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. In the same year, Charlotte Bronte attempted to publish her novel, The Professor, but was rejected. One year later, she published Jane Eyre, which was instantly well received.

Charlotte Bronte's life was touched by tragedy many times. Despite several proposals of marriage, she did not accept an offer until 1854 when she married the Reverend A. B. Nicholls. One year later, at the age of 39, she died of pneumonia while she was pregnant. Her previously rejected novel, The Professor, was published posthumously in 1857.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Charlotte Bronte's friend Ellen Nussey disobeyed the author's injunction to destroy the letters collected here--some 380 in all. They form the backbone of all modern Bronte biographies. Anyone unaware of the incredible task of tracing, organizing, and editing the letters has only to read the section titled "The History of the Letters" to appreciate Smith's awesome achievement in this book. Many letters were cut up by Mr. Bronte and distributed as souvenirs. Charlotte's husband, who held the copyright to the letters, hated publicity and Ellen Nussey did not get along with him. Finally, T.J. Wise, a collector of dubious integrity, sold letters and manuscripts so they were scattered all over the English-speaking world. The first significant collection of letters was Clement Shorter's Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle (1896), which prepared the way for the four-volume The Brontes: Their Lives, Friendships and Correspondence, edited by Thomas J. Wise and John A. Symington (1932). Smith's introduction follows the biography of Charlotte as seen through her letters. The edited text of each letter is followed by explanatory notes (some longer than the letters). An appendix contains Nussey's "Reminiscence of Charlotte Bronte by a Schoolfellow." This indispensable collection is a must for academic libraries and strongly recommended for all public libraries. G. B. Cross Eastern Michigan University