Letter to Charlotte Brontë, dated Wellington, New Zealand, 24 July 1848
Henry H. Bonnell Collection, bequest of Helen Safford Bonnell, 1969
When she published her first novel, Jane Eyre, in 1847, Charlotte Brontë told almost no one. But she did send a copy, along with Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey, to her good friend Mary Taylor in Wellington, New Zealand. Taylor responded with this affectionate letter. By the time it arrived in Yorkshire (five months after she had dispatched it from Wellington), Emily was near death and “Currer Bell” was a literary star.
I perceive I’ve betrayed my habit of writing only on one side of the paper. Go onto the next page.
I mention the book to no one & hear no opinions. I lend it a good deal because it’s a novel & it’s as good as another! They say “it makes them cry.” They are not literary enough to give an opinion. If ever I hear one I’ll embalm it for you.
As to my own affair I have written 100 pages & lately 50 more. It’s no use writing faster. I get so disgusted I can do nothing. I have sent 3 or 4 things to Joe for Tait. Troup (Ed.) never acknowledges them though he promised either to pay or send them back. Joe sent one to Chambers who thought it unsuitable in which I agree with them.
I think I told you I built a house. I get 12/– a week for it. Moreover I in accordance with a late letter of John’s I borrow money from him & Joe & buy cattle with it. I have already spent £100 or so & intend to buy some more as soon as War[ing] can pay me the money. —perhaps as much as by degrees as £400, or £500. As I only pay 5 per Ct. interest I expect [to] profit much by this. viz about 30 per Ct. a year—perhaps 40 or 50. Thus if I borrow £500 in two years’ time (I cannot have it quicker) I shall perhaps make £250 to £300. I am pretty certain of being able to pay principal & interest. If I could command £300 & £50 a year afterwards I would “hallock” about N.Z. for a twelvemonth then go home by way of India & write my travels which would prepare the way for my novel. With the benefit of your experience I should perhaps make a