3. Letter to Ellen Nussey, 30 June 1839, page 1

Charlotte Brontë

Letter to Ellen Nussey, dated Swarcliffe, Harrogate, 30 June 1839

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

MA 2696.24

Brontë spent a few months during the summer of 1839 caring for what she called the “riotous, perverse, unmanageable cubs” of the Sidgwick family. Not only did she detest the work, she felt awkwardly marginal within the family circle. She was so ill at ease that she preferred to write this letter (to her close friend Ellen) in pencil rather than venture into the drawing room to procure some ink.


My dearest Ellen

I am writing a letter to you with pencil because I cannot just now procure ink without going into the drawing-room – where I do not wish to go. I only received your letter yesterday for we are not now residing at Stonegappe – but at Swarcliffe a summer residence of Mr Greenwood’s Mrs Sidgwick’s father – it is near Harrogate – & Ripon – a beautiful place in a beautiful country – rich and agricultural –

I should have written to you long since – and told you every detail of the utterly new scene into which I have lately been cast – had I not been daily expecting a letter from yourself – and wondering and lamenting that you did not write for you will remember it was your turn. I must not bother you too much with my sorrows Ellen, of which I fear you have heard an exaggerated account – if you were near me perhaps I might be tempted to tell you all – to grow egotistical and pour out the long history of a Private Governesse’s trials and crosses in her first Situation – As it is I will