Letter to Ellen Nussey, 24 January 1840, page 2

Charlotte Brontë

Letter to Ellen Nussey, dated Haworth, 24 January 1840

Henry H. Bonnell Collection, bequest of Helen Safford Bonnell, 1969

MA 2696.25

A few months after she left the Sidgwick family’s employ, Brontë wrote this letter to her friend Ellen to let her know that she had just turned down a new job offer. Susanna Halliley of Leeds, a Brontë family acquaintance, had advertised for a churchgoing young lady of “amiable disposition, and some experience, willing to make herself generally useful, and competent to teach Music, French and Drawing.” The letter, which Brontë wrote in a moment of ill humor as she contemplated an unappealing future, shows evidence of her eventual fame: there is a hole in the paper where someone (presumably Ellen, later in her life) has clipped out Brontë’s signature for an autograph seeker.


exertion to keep them in anything like decent order.

I am miserable when I allow myself to dwell on the necessity of spending my life as a Governess. The chief requisite for that station seems to me to be the power of taking things easily as they come and of making oneself comfortable and at home wherever we may chance to be – qualities in which all our family are singularly deficient. I know I cannot live with a person like Mrs Sidgwick – but I hope all women are not like her – and my motto is “Try again”

Mary Taylor – I am sorry to hear is ill – have you seen her or heard anything of her lately – Sickness seems very general and Death too at least in this neighbourhood. Mr Price is dead – he had fallen into a state of delicate health for sometime and the rupture of a blood-vessel carried him off. He was a strong athletic-looking man when I saw him and that is scarcely six months ago. Though I knew so little of him, and of course could not be deeply or permanently interested in his what concerned him – I confess when I suddenly heard he was dead, I felt both shocked and saddened. It was no shame to feel so, was it?