Written by Kendall Talbot
I thought I had experienced everything there was to experience regarding the Brontës: I have read all their published work, studied their lives in a class dedicated solely to them, and even made a literary pilgrimage to their home in Haworth (yes, the moors are as bleak and melancholy as Emily Brontë makes them out to be). So you can imagine my delight upon learning that there would soon be more of the Brontës for me to devour. MobyLives recently reported that two lost Charlotte Brontë manuscripts, a seventy-seven-line poem and a seventy-four-line story, will be published by the Brontë Society later this year.
The manuscripts were discovered hidden between the pages of a copy of Robert Southey’s The Remains of Henry Kirke White, which had previously belonged to Charlotte’s mother, Maria. The Brontë Society, known for possessing a multitude of Brontë artifacts and persevering the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, purchased these manuscripts from a California-based rare book dealer for £200,000 in 2016, and now plans to share them with the rest of us Brontë enthusiasts. Along with replicas of the two manuscripts, this publication will include copies of annotations found in Maria’s book and a sketch by Charlotte’s brother, Branwell, as well as contributions from four Brontë specialists.
After hearing this news, one cannot help but wonder if there is more Brontë art out there just waiting to be discovered and published. During her lifetime, Charlotte was discouraged from publishing her work because, in the eyes of good society, women were supposed to be wives, not writers. In accordance with the mores of nineteenth-century England, nobody wanted to be troubled with the thoughts of a woman. When Charlotte did publish, though, she chose to conceal her gender under the male pseudonym Currer Bell. Disguised as a man, Charlotte proved English society wrong with her first novel, Jane Eyre, which has since been deemed revolutionary and ahead of its time. Such a powerful author must have created an abundance of equally powerful work, and I cannot wait to see what else we uncover in the years to come.