These posts will be a series of sequels offering more in-depth information about the lives of The Brontes. It is from a little booklet my love and I picked up at the shop while at Haworth. I love it and want to share it because it gives more personal insight into their lives.
Introduction: Jane Eyre, apparently written by ‘Currer Bell’, burst upon the London literary scene in October of 1847. Everyone was soon asking, who is this newcomer whose passionate writing is so unlike that of any of the established authors? By December, the book was a runaway best-seller, and received rave review; ‘decidedly the best book of the season’, ‘a book of decided power,’ ‘all serious novel writers of the day lose in comparison with Currer Bell’. Then a different publisher launched two further novels: Wuthering Heights by Ellis Bell, and Agnes Grey by Acton Bell, and this intrigued the London literary world even more. How were the three authors related? Were they men or women? They seemed to know how women thought and felt, yet they showed ‘the brutalising influence of unchecked passion’ and far too much knowledge of debauchery and wickedness for them to be ‘ladies’. Some pundits thought all three books were by one author. In those days new novels were hugely expensive – a guinea and a half, the equivalent of a month’s wages for a labourer. Successful books came out in cheaper editions later, but most readers used ‘circulating libraries’ which were rather like today’s public libraries, except funded by individual subscriptions rather than from taxation. Before long, Jane Eyre in particular was being read throughout the country, including Yorkshire.