7. Letter to William S. Williams, 13 July 1848, page 1

Charlotte Brontë

Letter to William S. Williams of Smith, Elder & Co., dated Haworth, 13 July 1848

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

MA 2696.35

After Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey were published in quick succession in 1847, readers and critics were full of curiosity about this hitherto unknown literary family. Were there really three Bells? Were they really men? And if they were women, why was their work so bold? Charlotte and Anne Brontë finally took a drastic step. They boarded a train to London and presented themselves at the offices of Smith, Elder & Co., Charlotte’s publisher. Not only did they reveal themselves as women, they made clear, by arriving together, that there was more than one Bell. When they returned to Haworth, Charlotte sent this letter, expressing relief at having revealed herself “for what I am.”


My dear Sir

We reached home safely yesterday, and in a day or two I doubt not we shall get the better of the fatigues of our journey.

It was a somewhat hasty step to hurry up to Town as we did, but I do not regret having taken it. In the first place, mystery is irksome, and I was glad to shake it off with you and Mr. Smith, and to shew myself to you for what I am, neither more nor less; thus removing any false expectations that may have arisen under the idea that “Currer Bell” had a just claim to the masculine cognomen, he, perhaps,