Item #409836 Autograph note signed ("C. Bronte"), “Saturday,” to “N." [Ellen Nussey], [18 June 1853]. Charlotte BRONTË.

Autograph note signed ("C. Bronte"), “Saturday,” to “N." [Ellen Nussey], [18 June 1853]

One page, oblong, 80 x 95mm. Tipped at corners on the verso of the frontispiece in Charlotte Brontë, Shirley, London: Smith, Elder and Co, 1872. Trimmed closely, visible horizontal fold near top, but generally fine. Item #409836

Apparently a lost letter from Charlotte Brontë to her close friend Ellen Nussey. Reading:


N. [Brönte often addressed notes to Nussey with her sobriquet "Nell"]

The enclosed is from Amelia [Taylor, neé Ringrose, their mutual friend] to you. I have not read it of course though it was sent open.

As I expected – Mrs. Gaskell cannot now come till Autumn – So I shall expect you next Thursday. Write by return (it takes 2 post from Oundle to Haworth) to tell me by what train you will arrive at Keighly. C Brontë."

A fragmentary transcription of this note is found in Brontë’s Letters (ed. Margaret Smith, vol. 3, Oxford University Press, 2004), with the original manuscript source annotated as untraced. The date was derived from a letter Brontë sent to Nussey two days later, on 20 June 1853, in which she complains that this note was not sent: "I have been very much vexed to find that Martha [Brown, the Brontë’s servant] forgot to post my letter of Saturday 18th till too late – consequently we have no post on Sunday, it will not go till to-day and you cannot receive it till Tuesday at the earliest – not till Wednesday – if I am right about the 2 posts to Oundle..." She goes on at greater length to discuss Nussey’s visit to Haworth and her health in this letter (Brontë Parsonage Museum, Brontë Society, MS 90). Wise & Symington, The Brontës: Their Lives, Friendships and Correspondence 855 referenced this June 20th letter, as well as the present note. Their original source was likely from a copy, like those in Ellen Nussey’s copies of letters from Charlotte Brontë that were bought by Mrs. Needham of Blackburn in 1898 and are now in the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Ellen Nussey (1817-1897) was a lifelong friend and correspondent of Charlotte Brontë. The more than 500 letters Nussey received from the author formed the basis of Elizabeth Gaskell's 1857 biography. Nussey was one of two witnesses present at Charlotte’s marriage to Arthur Bell Nicholls in June 1854, and when Charlotte died less than a year later Nicholls was concerned that their correspondence would damage Charlotte’s reputation and he asked that the letters be destroyed. Nussey refused and sought to have them published, but Nicholls, holding the copyright, blocked their release. According to auction records, some 23 letters by Brontë to Nussey have been sold since 1980 (along with the tranche of 30 letters sold at the Christie's 25 March 1980 benefit sale for the Grolier Club), though they are of increasing scarcity in the market: none are recorded at auction since 2017, the last being only an envelope addressed in Charlotte's hand.

Price: $25,000.00

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