Monday 11 December 2017

Jane Eyre author's rare envelopes to life-long friend up for auction

One of two envelopes addressed by Charlotte Bronte to her life-long friend Ellen Nussey, which will go under the hammer (Henry Aldridge & Son/PA)
One of two envelopes addressed by Charlotte Bronte to her life-long friend Ellen Nussey, which will go under the hammer (Henry Aldridge & Son/PA)
One of the envelopes from Jane Eyre author Charlotte Bronte to life-long friend Ellen Nussey (Henry Aldridge & Son/PA)

Rare envelopes that would have contained letters detailing the relationship between author Charlotte Bronte and her life-long friend are expected to fetch about £1,000 when they go under the hammer.

The handwritten envelopes were addressed to Ellen Nussey and sent to her in Leeds by the Jane Ayre author.

Both envelopes are expected to fetch between £800 and £1,200 when they go under the hammer.

Bronte and Ms Nussey became life-long friends after first meeting at school in Yorkshire when they were aged 14 and 13 respectively.

It was during their time at Roe Head School that they began writing to each other - correspondence that lasted until Bronte died in 1855 aged 38 while pregnant with her first child.

During that time Bronte rejected the marriage proposal from Ms Nussey's brother, Henry, and later her friend was one of two witnesses who observed Bronte's wedding to her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls.

They exchanged hundreds of letters and 350 that Bronte penned to Ms Nussey were used by Elizabeth Gaskell as the basis to write her 1857 biography The Life Of Charlotte Bronte.

Charlotte Bronte and her sisters, Emily and Anne, wrote the literary masterpieces Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall respectively.

Auctioneer Henry Aldridge & Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, will be selling the two envelopes on November 19.

The first is written by Bronte in brown ink with a Penny Red stamp and postmarked "Leeds Jan 30 1849" and "Barnsley Keighley and Haworth" with the remains of a black seal. The 4in x 2.4in (10cm x 6cm) envelope bears a black mourning band to the border.

The second envelope is again written in brown ink with an accompanying Penny Red stamp. It is postmarked "Leeds MR 31 1846" on the front and "Bradford and Haworth" on the reverse.

Bronte has affixed a small printed scrap "Attend to Time" on the reverse of the 4.3in x 2.4in (11cm x 6cm) envelope.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: "These covers represent a small part of English literary history. Charlotte Bronte is one of the giants of English literature.

"These covers are written to her childhood friend and closest confidante Ellen Nussey, who first met Charlotte Bronte in 1831.

"Anything related to Charlotte is desirable but to have a pair of covers written by her to her closet friend offers an incredible opportunity to a collector or museum."

Press Association

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