Letter to Ellen Nussey, 1 May 1849, pages 2–3

Charlotte Brontë

Letter to Ellen Nussey, dated Haworth, 1 May 1849

MA 7317

Charlotte Brontë’s brother, Branwell, and sister Emily both died in late 1848. Within months, her last surviving sibling, Anne, was also gravely ill. In this letter to her close friend Ellen, Charlotte reveals her anxiety about their planned trip to the seaside town of Scarborough, where Anne had begged to be taken. Charlotte, Anne, and Ellen did make the trip, and Anne died there, at the age of twenty-nine, a few weeks after Charlotte sent this letter.


finer weather has not proved beneficial so far; she has sometimes been so weak and suffered so much from pain in her side during the last few days – that I have not known what to think. It may however be only a temporary aggravation of symptoms; she may rally again and be much better – but there must be some improvement before I can feel justified in taking her away from home. Yet to delay is painful – for as is always the case I believe under her circumstances – she seems herself but half conscious of the necessity for such delay: she wonders I believe why I do not talk more about the journey: it grieves me to think that she may even be hurt by my seeming tardiness.

She is very much emaciated – far more so than when you were here – her arms are no thicker than a little child’s. The least exertion brings on shortness of breath – She goes out a little every day – but we creep rather than walk.

Tell your Mother and Sisters that I feel the kindness of their invitation, but it quite out of the question to accept it.