The Passing Of Ellen Nussey, Loyal Brontë Friend

This week has marked a sad anniversary in the Brontë story (there seem to be so many of those, but remember there’s a corresponding happy anniversary for each one) as Ellen Nussey passed away on the 26th November 1897. Ellen was the great friend of Charlotte Brontë, and Ellen paid this glowing tribute to the qualities which mattered to her most:

In today’s new post we’re going to look at Ellen Nussey’s death, but we’re going to lighten the mood with some glorious pictures of Ellen too. Let’s begin with a picture of Ellen Nussey that Charlotte herself drew in their youth:

Ellen Nussey, by Charlotte Bronte
Ellen Nussey, drawn by Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Brontë and Ellen Nussey first met at Roe Head School, Mirfield in January 1831, and Ellen later recalled their first meeting:

‘Turning to the window to observe the look-out I became aware for the first that I was not alone; there was a silent, weeping, dark little figure in the large bay window; she must, I thought, have risen from the floor. As soon as I had recovered from my surprise, I went from the far end of the room, where the book-shelves were, the contents of which I must have contemplated with a little awe in anticipation of coming studies. A crimson cloth covered the long table down the centre of the room, which helped, no doubt, to hide the shrinking little figure from my view. I was touched and troubled at once to see her so sad and tearful.

I said shrinking, because her attitude, when I saw her, was that of one who wished to hide both herself and her grief. She did not shrink, however, when spoken to, but in very few words confessed she was “home-sick”. After a little of such comfort as could be offered, it was suggested to her that there was a possibility of her too having to comfort the speaker by and by for the same cause. A faint quivering smile lighted her face; the tear-drops fell; we silently took each other’s hands, and at once we felt that genuine sympathy which always consoles, even though it be unexpressed. We did not talk or stir till we heard the approaching footsteps of other pupils coming in from their play.”

This photograph of Ellen Nussey has been spectacularly restored and colourised by Michael O’Dowd – thank you!

A firm friendship was made, and a lasting one. Ellen it was who served as Charlotte’s chief bridesmaid and it was also Ellen, alongside Charlotte, who accompanied Anne Brontë on her final journey to Scarborough; even the reserved Emily Brontë took Ellen as a friend, a friendship that Ellen repaid by later remembering Emily as the greatest genius of the first half of the nineteenth century.

Ellen Nussey lived to be eighty years old. She never married; her one true, unending relationship was with the Brontës who had long predeceased her. It is thanks to her ripe old age (for the time) that we have so many photographs of Ellen, and a portrait of her. Ellen loved to talk about the Brontës, and she was never short of people willing to listen. There was a regular stream of visitors, Brontë fans, to her homes in Birstall and Gomersal in her later life, and one of these was the American-English artist Frederic Yates. He painted this beautiful portrait of Ellen in later years:

Ellen Nussey by Frederic Yates

We have a record of perhaps the last visit to Ellen Nussey, and a fascinating one it is too. It appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 29th November 1897:

Ellen Nussey in later life, pencil drawing

This same Yorkshire Post, two days earlier, had carried news of Ellen’s death:

Two days later, alongside the report of the visit by the unnamed West Riding lady, we hear a report of Ellen’s final moments:

Ellen’s funeral took place on the 30th November 1897. We hear that the Brontë Society sent a wreath, but that her funeral was sparsely attended due to terrible weather. She lies now in St. Peter’s churchyard, Birstall (that’s it at the head of this post), not far from another woman who was central to the Brontë story: Margaret Wooler.

Ellen Nussey, aged 65

There’s a further sad incident to reflect upon, I’m afraid, that came two years after Ellen’s death. Ellen had a great love for the church, and she was always ready to help the church, its clergy, and wider society in general. She was generous both with her time and money, and in her will she had made provision for ‘the benefit of the poor of Birstall.’ Alas, as this report in the Manchester Evening News of 21st April 1899 reveals, legal wrangling and complications ate up all the money that Ellen left, and the poor and needy were left with nothing:

Nevertheless Ellen was remembered fondly by all who knew her and by those in the area as a whole. Today she is known to a wider world of Brontë lovers as the woman who preserved the Brontë legacy in the decades after their passing. It is thanks to the hundreds of Charlotte Brontë’s letters which Ellen kept that we know so much about the Brontës today. That’s a legacy that can never be diminished.

Charlotte loved Ellen dearly. It was to Ellen that she wrote frankly, ‘It is from religion that you derive your chief charm and may its influence always preserve you as pure, as unassuming and as benevolent in thought and deed as you are now. What am I compared to you? I feel my own utter worthlessness when I make the comparison.’ Now that’s a tribute! I hope to see you all again next week for another new Brontë blog post.

Ellen Nussey old
Ellen Nussey photographed in old age

Oh, before I go, there’s another picture I want you to look at that you won’t have seen before. This late Victorian photograph was found in a West Yorkshire antique shop – to me it bears more than a resemblance to earlier photographs of Ellen Nussey, although this is of an older woman. Could this be the very last photograph of Ellen Nussey? It hangs proudly now on my wall.

Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens

I don’t mean to frighten anyone, but it’s just over a month until Christmas. The cold nights are definitely making themselves felt, and every television ad break seems to be accompanied by jingling bells. There’s one writer above all others who has become associated with Christmas, and he has been very much on my mind recently for reasons I will come to later: Charles Dickens. In today’s blog post, we’re going to look at Dickens and the Brontës.

We can’t in the space of a single blog post give anything approximating to a precis of the life of Dickens. Charles John Huffam Dickens was born in Portsmouth in February 1812, making him four years older than Charlotte Brontë. His life could have descended into poverty in 1824 when his father was incarcerated in a debtor’s prison, and the 12 year old Charles had to leave school and begin work in a factory. It is perhaps this experience that gave Dickens his sympathy with the impoverished and downtrodden of 19th century society. Nevertheless, as we know, Dickens elevated himself greatly through the force of his talent and personality; he is today perhaps the most famous novelist of them all, and was one of the most celebrated men in Victorian England.

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens in a typically confident pose

Dickens was connected to most of the great novelists of the century, many of whom he serialised and published in his hugely influential magazine ‘Household Words’. Today, however, let’s focus on one particular writer who is always of interest to us. I mentioned Dickens and the Brontës earlier, but it is Charlotte Brontë to whom we turn, for it was she who has left her opinion on his works.

In May 1849, she wrote to W. S. Williams to explain that she could never write a serialised novel of the kind that Dickens had made so popular:

‘I verily believe that the “nobler sex” find it more difficult to wait, to plod, to work out their destiny inch by inch, than their sisters do. They are always for walking so fast and taking such long steps, one cannot keep up with them. One should never tell a gentleman that one has commenced a task till it is nearly achieved. Currer Bell, even if he had no let or hindrance, and if his path was quite smooth, could never march with the tread of a Scott, a Bulwer, a Thackeray, or a Dickens. I want you and Mr. Smith clearly to understand this.’

The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth

In her letters Charlotte proclaimed herself particularly impressed by David Copperfield, but she took issue with one particular character in Bleak House:

‘Is the 1st. no. of Bleak House generally admired? I liked the Chancery part – but where it passes into the autobiographic form and the young woman who announces she is not “bright” begins her history – it seems to me too often weak and twaddling – an amiable nature is caricatured – not faithfully rendered in Miss Esther Summerson.’

So, we have seen that Charlotte Brontë held the work of Charles Dickens in some esteem but was critical of some aspects of it, but what did she think of the man? Did their paths ever cross? For an answer to that we turn to an obscure edition of an obscure magazine. ‘The Free Lance’ of 14th March 1868 contained an article by the author John Stores Smith. It is entitled ‘Personal Reminiscences: A Day With Charlotte Brontë’, so of course it’s of great interest to us.

Stores Smith explains in great, almost Dickensian, detail how he came to travel to Haworth one day in 1850 with the intention of meeting Charlotte Brontë. Haworth failed to impress him: ‘By the time I reached the end of its steep hill, my body was wearied, and my high spirits had all given way to an oppressive numbness of the soul. How anyone could live a life-time there, and not grow morbid, was incomprehensible.’ Neither was he taken by the parsonage: ‘The parsonage was a low stone house, which occupied one corner of the grave yard. A field had evidently been set apart, and the founders of the church had said: “In three-fourths of it we will inter the dead, and in that other fourth we will bury the living”… The stone of the house was of the same melancholy tint as the flags of the walk; a small door was in the centre, and a window on either side; in the only storey above were three windows, I think. Of all the sad, heart-broken looking dwellings I had passed throught this looked the saddest. A great sinking of spirit came over me, and I wished I had not come.’

Main Street, Haworth is very steep, but not as dispiriting today as it once was.

Nevertheless, safely inside, Stores Smith was impressed by Charlotte Brontë, or at least by the hypnotic power of her eyes (something that just about everyone who ever met Charlotte commented on): ‘She was diminutive in height, and extremely fragile in figure. Her hand was one of the smallest I have ever grasped. She had no pretensions to being considered beautiful, and was as far removed from being plain. She had rather light brown hair, somewhat thin, and drawn plainly over her brow. Her complexion had no trace of colour in it, and her lips were pallid also; but she had a most sweet smile, with a touch of tender melancholy in it. Altogether she was as unpretending, undemonstrative, quiet a little lady as you could well meet. Her age I took to be about five-and-thirty. But when you saw and felt her eyes, the spirit that created Jane Eyre was revealed at once to you. They were rather small, but of a very peculiar colour, and had a strange lustre and intensity. They were chameleon-like, a blending of various brown and olive tints. But they looked you through and through – and you felt they were forming an opinion of you, not by mere acute noting of Lavaterish physiognomical peculiarities [Joahnn Kasper Lavater was the author of a groundbreaking book on physiognomy], but by a subtle penetration into the very marrow of your mind, and the innermost core of your sole. Taking my hand again she apologised for her enforced absence, and, as she did so, she looked right through me. There was no boldness in the gaze, but an intense, direct, searching look, as one who had the gift to read hidden mysteries, and the right to read them.’

A young Charles Dickens. He found huge fame in his early 20s, despite his troubled upbringing

A fascinating portrait of Charlotte Brontë, but it is a few simple lines later in the account that are particularly relevant to today’s post: ‘In 1850, shortly after her visit to London as a literary lioness, she pictured her impressions of metropolitan literary life in most forbidding colours, and with clear, cutting, intense distaste of it; I may even say contempt. Dickens she had met, and admired his genius, but did not like him. Her homely thrift, and unpretending, retiring nature, shrunk from him, from an idea she had acquired of ostentatious extravagance on his part.’

This is the only account of Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens meeting. Some have cited the lack of corroborative evidence as proof that Stores Smith was wrong, but in my opinion it’s almost certain to be true. The account of both Charlotte Brontë’s reaction to literary London rings true with what we know of her character and tastes, and the account of Dickens’ extravagance fits perfectly with his character too. Charlotte was in London in the summer of 1850 and attended a number of literary parties thrown by her friend and publisher George Smith – Dickens was in London too at the time and was known for attending such parties, so it would seem unlikely that a chance for a meeting hadn’t presented itself. It could be that Charlotte had indeed mentioned meeting Dickens in letters of the time, but that these letters are now lost as so many sadly are. Finally, there would be no reason at all for Stores Smith to invent the meeting, and as we see from his description of Charlotte he was possessed of an excellent memory.

George Smith
George Smith – did Charlotte and Charles meet at one of his literary salons?

I’m confident in saying that Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens, these two enduring titans of Victorian literature, did meet. They were very different people, but they have both left a wonderful legacy for book lovers. Back to the start of my post: I said that Dickens had particularly caught my attention this week. That’s because a newly discovered letter on Tavistock House notepaper, presumed to be written by Dickens, has been placed before the world (Tavistock House was his London home from 1851 until 1860). The problem is that it is written in a code, in a type of shorthand that nobody has yet been able to decipher. The Dickens Project is offering £300 to anyone who can decode, or even partially decode it, but it has eluded my decoding skills so far. I reproduce the letter below, see if you can work out just what Charles Dickens was saying. I hope to see you again next Sunday for another new Brontë blog post.

The Death And Obituaries Of Elizabeth Gaskell

On this Remembrance Sunday let us start by remembering and honouring all those who gave their today for our tomorrows; men like the fellow officers of Captain Arthur Branwell captured in this photograph not far from the French front. This first cousin of the Brontës once removed (his father Thomas Brontë Branwell travelled to Haworth and met his cousin Charlotte Brontë) was the only one of these five officers to make it home alive. There were many other such stories then, and still wars rage around the world stoked up by men who are safe in the knowledge that there will never be a front line that they themselves will serve at.

Arthur Branwell in World War 1

We also remember a writer who became a great friend of Charlotte Brontë and the great chronicler of her: Elizabeth Gaskell whose anniversary is this week; she died aged 55 on 12th November 1865. Elizabeth never met Anne Brontë, and so most of her pronouncements on Anne within her biography of Charlotte are based upon conversations with Charlotte and others. Nevertheless, her The Life Of Charlotte Brontë introduced Anne Brontë to the world as a person and not merely as the name on a book cover. In today’s post we look at the strange circumstances of the death of Elizabeth Gaskell, and at the tributes paid to her at the time.

We will be turning to the archives and to the newspapers of the day, before finishing with a very special letter. Firstly, let’s take a look at the simple obituary included in the London Illustrated News of 18th November 1865:

The Bury Times of 18th November 1865 gave the first details of the circumstances of Elizabeth’s death:

“Mrs. Gaskell, the authoress and biographer, was suddenly struck by death on Sunday last, while in the act of reading to her daughters. She has thus passed away in the midst of that domestic life out of which her literary talent grew and flourished. It is not many years ago that it was suggested to her to attempt to divert her mind from a deep household sorrow by the exercise of her imagination in the composition of a work of fiction, and Mary Barton was then written – much of it on backs of letters, and on other scraps of paper that fell in her way, probably with no intention of publication, and certainly with no hope of fame. The book was received with great interest and sympathy by the public, and with some hostility by the chief employers of labour in the Manchester district, who were displeased that their relations with the work-people should be discussed in this fashion, and perhaps not altogether satisfied with the spirit of entire justice with which Mrs. Gaskell treated some burning questions of social economy. From that time Mrs. Gaskell has written continuously and well.”

Elizabeth Gaskell by George Richmond (1851). Richmond also painted Charlotte Bronte

The deep household sorrow referenced above was the death of Elizabeth’s baby son William in 1844. It was indeed this that provided the catalyst for her first novel Mary Barton: A Tale Of Manchester Life. Elizabeth was mourned particularly in the Manchester and greater Lancashire area, and this next obituary, from the Ulverston Advertiser and General Intelligencer of 16th November 1865 gives a fitting tribute to her life and work:

“On Monday evening, the melancholy intelligence reached Manchester of the death of Mrs. Gaskell, the wife of the respected minister of the Unitarian Chapel, Cross-Street. She was visiting in London, where probably the death of Mr. Justice Crompton (whose son married Miss Gaskell) somewhat prolonged her stay. Her death was very sudden, and that there could have been no expectation of so speedy a termination of her life-work, nor even a thought of danger, is shown by the fact that Mr. Gaskell was preaching in his own chapel on Sunday, and was at home when the news of her decease reached him.

Mrs. Gaskell, whose maiden name was Stevenson, was born about the first year of this century [she was actually born in 1810]. She was brought up by some aunts, named Holland, at Knutsford. It was shortly after Mr. Gaskell’s settlement at Manchester, as co-pastor with the late Mr. Robberds, that the deceased lady met her future husband while she was visiting with Mr. Robberds. Their marriage took place about the year 1832, and four daughters were born to them. Mrs. Gaskell lived the honoured and useful life of a minister’s wife for many years before her name became known as an authoress. Doubtless during all those years she was maturing the powers which enabled her to take so high a place among modern novelists and biographers. With the modesty of doubt in her own gift, she issued her first work, Mary Barton, anonymously in 1848. It attracted great interest from the fact that its scene was laid in this neighbourhood, and that it revealed a new phase of life in a style of novel as it was entertaining.

The Gaskell Memorial Tower in Knutsford bears the titles of all her books

Since 1848 Mrs. Gaskell has written much, and not many publishing scenes have passed without some work from her pen. Indeed, considering the lateness of the harvest the wonder is that it has been so bountiful. Ruth appeared about 1852: and although not so striking a work as its predecessor, Mrs. Gaskell’s reputation lost nothing by it. Another of the popular novels was North And South, in which the painful incidents of a strike in the manufacturing districts were narrated with great vigour. Besides these Mrs. Gaskell wrote many less elaborate stories for the leading serials, some of which were subsequently published in a collected form.

But her greatest work and that by which she will be longest known, is her Life Of Charlotte Brontë, of which it has been said that no biography has equalled it since Boswell’s “Johnson”. In the earlier editions of this now standard work, some personal references were made which created much discussion, and which were omitted from subsequent editions…

Her conversational powers were of no mean order, and she was at all times an important acquisition to the social circle. Of late years she has travelled much abroad; but her inspiration was always found in English life and character. Her death leaves a blank that will not be easily filled.”

It is interesting to note that in obituaries of the time, Elizabeth Gaskell is most known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. As reported above, Elizabeth’s husband, Reverend William Gaskell, was not with Elizabeth when she died. This it seems set some tongues wagging, and it was widely believed that Elizabeth and William were in fact separated and living apart at the time of her death. This was refuted by Reverend Hawkes who had known Elizabeth in Hampshire, and his account of her death appeared in the Westmorland Gazette of 25th November 1865:

The fact is that Reverend Gaskell did not even know that his wife had bought this property 190 miles from their Manchester home, still less that she often spent time there. We shall read later, however, that her plan was to eventually persuade her husband to retire there with her.

Reverend Hawkes’ report also confirms Elizabeth’s final word: ‘when’. Elizabeth’s body was transported from Hampshire to the Cheshire town of Knutsford for her funeral (her grave is at the head of this post). Although born in London, she had come home to the beautiful town in which she had been raised by her aunts. As this account from the Pall Mall Gazette of 18th November 1865 shows, her funeral was sparsely attended but the merchants of Manchester had gathered to pay tribute – any enmity now seemingly set aside:

It is sad to note that all in attendance were men, the daughters of Elizabeth Gaskell were not allowed to attend their mother’s funeral. This was a common practise at the time. It is to one of Elizabeth’s daughters that we turn for the final word on her death though. Ellen Nussey, great friend of Charlotte Brontë, came to know Elizabeth Gaskell and her family when she provided assistance with Elizabeth’s biography of Charlotte. After reading of Elizabeth’s passing, Ellen wrote to her daughter Meta Gaskell to express her condolences and ask for more information. The letter that Meta sent to Ellen in January 1866 is beautiful and melancholic:

Letter from Meta Gaskell to Ellen Nussey (with picture of Elizabeth Gaskell)

‘Noble beyond words’ is a fine tribute to Elizabeth Gaskell and to all who we remember today. The Cross-Street chapel in Manchester where William preached last night hosted an event to celebrate the life of Anne Brontë, and I hear from those in attendance that it was a great success. Well done to all who organised it! I hope you can join me again next week for another new Brontë blog post.

Charlotte Brontë’s Letters: Burn After Reading?

I love reading Brontë novels and poems of course, but I also love reading about their lives. Modern biographers can’t follow in Elizabeth Gaskell’s footsteps by interviewing people who knew the Brontës but they can still find some fascinating first hand accounts hidden away in archives. The primary source for our information on the Brontës, however, is undoubtedly the letters of Charlotte Brontë. Things could have been very different if an instruction given by Arthur Bell Nicholls in October 1854 had been followed, so in today’s post we’re going to look at why.

Charlotte’s main correspondent was her great friend Ellen Nussey. The letters to Ellen provide much of the information we know about the Brontës today, from details of their everyday lives to their writing endeavours and finally to accounts of the final days of Charlotte’s siblings. Charlotte was a frequent and brilliant letter writer, and each letter was written with a complete frankness and openness. It was this, it seems, that worried Arthur, by then Charlotte’s husband, as we see in this latter dated 20th October 1854:

To Arthur, the frank nature of Charlotte’s letter made them as dangerous as lucifer matches – the white phosphorous headed matches which could be deadly not only to the match girls who made them but also because of the fires they could potentially cause. Perhaps Arthur was looking to the future? Convinced of his wife’s genius, he could see that her life story would one day be in demand, and that the letters she was writing now could potentially be read by others in the future.

Charlotte’s reaction was an interesting one in that she laughs off Arthur’s suggestion, saying that it is simply that men don’t understand the female art of letter writing. Nevertheless, she insists that Ellen sends a promise to burn her letters, if only to appease Arthur.

How did Ellen respond? Let’s take a look at a letter of two weeks later, dated on this day, 167 years ago, 7th November 1854:

At the start of the second paragraph, Charlotte writes, ‘Arthur thanks you for the promise’, before going on to explain that his purpose is not to prevent old friends from communicating freely but rather he is worried about them being seen by eyes they were not intended to be seen by.

Arthur Bell Nicholls
Arthur Bell Nicholls was worried about who would see Charlotte’s letters in the future

So, Ellen has made a promise to burn Charlotte’s letters after reading, so what happened? It seems that Ellen herself was ashamed of the promise she had made. In fact, when Ellen gave a copy of this letter to Clement Shorter for use in a biography he was preparing, Ellen had deleted the start of the second paragraph and there is no mention of the promise at all.

The manuscript of this letter is now in the hands of the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and it tells a very interesting story as Ellen has written a running commentary, in pencil, alongside it. Her commentary reads ‘promise’, ‘conditional’, and ‘not complied with’, and at the foot of the letter Ellen has written, ‘he never did give the pledge.’

We also have the note that Ellen supplied to Arthur; it’s now in the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, and is in fact the only correspondence we have from Ellen to either Charlotte or Arthur (although there are many other letters from her extant). Here is a transcript of Ellen’s note:

Once again, however, Ellen’s pencil has later been used to interesting effect, as she has added the words: ‘Mr N continued his censorship so the pledge was void.’

The censorship talked of here indicates that Arthur had censored some of Charlotte’s letters before sending them on to Ellen. This practice seems abhorrent today, quite rightly, but it would have been nothing out of the ordinary at that time.

At the heart of the dispute over Charlotte’s letters was a great dislike between two of the most important people in Charlotte Brontë’s life: Arthur Bell Nicholls and Ellen Nussey, her husband and her best friend. In my view both of these people were kind and honest and both loved Charlotte deeply, but to say they didn’t get on is an understatement. Each believed the other to be monopolising Charlotte’s love, and Ellen’s bitterness at having to share Charlotte can be seen after the announcement of her engagement to Arthur; so angry was Ellen that she broke off all communication with Charlotte, and this estrangement stretched from July 1853 to February 1854. It was Margaret Wooler, who had once been headmistress to them both, who eventually brought them together again – in time for Ellen to serve as Charlotte’s bridesmaid.

Ellen Nussey
Ellen Nussey thankfully preserved hundreds of Charlotte’s letters

Charlotte’s untimely passing in 1855 did little to reconcile Arthur and Ellen, in fact Ellen unfairly blamed Arthur for her friend’s death. One of the final letters we have from Ellen was written to Clement Shorter in 1895, two years before her own passing and forty years after Charlotte’s but her enmity for Arthur was far from forgotten. She writes:

‘I am also sadly grieved that you will not give an hour for special information [i.e. will not visit Ellen] when you can go all the way to Ireland to see that selfish man [Arthur] who certainly shortened C.B.’s life, none of the sisters liked him, least of all Emily, who probably saw deeper into character than C. and A. She used to walk into the room for anything she wanted without casting a look on him… His poor wife left to his ignorant nursing when better aid was proposed. He evaded all her wishes for one weeks change ere her illness began when it was her purpose to make a will free of his influence. It was made in her dying moments on half a sheet of paper under his eye. Who could complain of the last if he had been other than he was.’

Ellen later goes on to say that Arthur was responsible for Charlotte’s death because he should have known that she was too small and frail to have children. In truth, of course, Charlotte died because of hyperemesis gravidurum, a condition neither she nor Arthur could have anticipated.

The enmity between these two important people in Charlotte’s life is sad, especially as they were both people who loved Charlotte dearly. On the other hand, it could have brought great benefits for the world of literature. Mary Taylor, Charlotte’s other great friend, destroyed most of the letters Charlotte had sent her: perhaps Arthur had given her the same instruction, but she had complied with it, or perhaps she was simply following the convention of the time after Charlotte’s death? Ellen, however, preserved Charlotte’s letters for posterity because of her dislike and distrust of Arthur Bell Nicholls. It is thanks to that that we have so many of Charlotte’s wonderful letters available to us today, and so much Brontë history at our fingertips.

I hope you can join me next week for another new Brontë blog post, but I must also bring to your notice a special event to mark 200 years of Anne Brontë being held at Cross Street Chapel, Manchester next Saturday the 13th of November, starting at 7.30. Filled with music and poetry it should be a special night in honour of a very special woman.

I leave you now with one of Charlotte’s earliest letters to Ellen Nussey. Typically frank, typically loving, typically humorous, it burns brighter than any lucifer match.