4. Letter to Ellen Nussey, 24 January 1840, page 1

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.


My dear Ellen

I have given Mrs Edward Halliley her coup de grace – that is to say I have relinquished the idea of becoming an inmate of her family – I have no doubt she will be very cross with me especially as when I first declined going she pressed me to take a trial of a month – I am now therefore again adrift, without an object – I am sorry for this but something may tum up erelong.

I know not whether to encourage you in your plan of going out or not – your health seems to me the great obstacle – if you could obtain a situation like Mary Brooke you might do very well – But you could never live in an unruly, violent family of modern children such for instance as those at Blake Hall – Anne is not to return – Mrs Ingham is a placid mild woman – but as for the children it was one struggle of life-wearing