Letter to William S. Williams, 8 May 1849, pages 6–7

Charlotte Brontë

Letter to William S. Williams, dated Haworth, 8 May 1849

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

MA 2696.37

Brontë wrote this letter to her friend William S. Williams of the firm Smith, Elder, & Co., which had published Jane Eyre, to send him a wrenching update of her sister Anne’s decline. She wrote on black-edged mourning stationery, having recently lost her sister Emily and brother, Branwell, both of whom had died a few months before.


up with them – One should never tell a gentleman that one has commenced a task till it is nearly achieved. Currer Bell – even if he had no let or hindrance, and if his path were quite smooth, could never march with the tread of a Scott, a Bulwer, a Thackeray, or a Dickens. I want you and Mr. Smith clearly to understand this; I have always wished to guard you against exaggerated anticipations, calculate low when you calculate on me. An honest man – and woman too – would always rather rise above expectation, than fall below it.

The Have I lectured enough – and am I understood?

Give my sympathizing respects to Mrs. Williams – I hope her little daughter is by this time restored to perfe[c]t health. It pleased me to see with what satisfaction you speak of your Son – I was glad too to hear of the progress and welfare of Miss Kavanagh –

The notices of Mr Harris’s work are encouraging and just – may they contribute to his success.

Should Mr Thackeray again ask after Currer Bell, say the secret is and will be well kept because it is not worth disclosure – this fact his own sagacity will have already led him to divine.

In the hope that it may not be long ere I hear from you again

Believe me

Yours sincerely

C Brontë