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Monday, 1 September 2008

Charlotte's letter returns

Over 4000 miles away from where it was first written, an important Charlotte Brontë letter to her publisher William Smith Williams has been bought by the Brontë Parsonage Museum with financial help from a grant given by the MLA and V&A Purchase Grant Fund. It has just been put on display.

Written at a significant point in her life, the letter, signed in the pseudonym ‘C. Bell’, discusses reviews of her recently published novel Jane Eyre and also makes reference to the second edition.

Written in Haworth just three months after the first publication of Jane Eyre on 13 January 1848, the letter was purchased over seventy years later by an American Brontë Society member visiting England and it was taken back to the USA when she returned. It was inherited from her grandmother by Patti Engels of California, who sold it to the Brontë Parsonage Museum just a few weeks ago. For most of its time in the USA, the whereabouts of the letter remained unknown.

Collections Manager Ann Dinsdale commented: “Patti Engels did not want the letter to be sold in the United States. She was very keen that the Parsonage should have it.

“Now it has returned to where it was written. Charlotte relied on letters from Mr Williams after the loss of her sisters. He was the first person in the publishing world to spot her potential as a novelist."

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