Brontë letters go under the hammer
THEY were a collection of letters, written by a girl to her best friend from their schooldays in Mirfield.
But now that rare collection of letters from Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey has gone under the hammer at a London auction.
And they are heading back to West Yorkshire.
The letters between the friends, who met at the former Roe Head School near Mirfield, were sold at Sotheby’s by a private collector to The Brontë Society yesterday.
The collection of letters was estimated to achieve a price of between £100,000 and £150,000, but in the end sold for £185,000.
The first letter, dated not long after the friends left school in 1832, follows Brontë’s first visit to Nussey’s home and is written in French.
Another, written in 1836 after the author returned to Roe Head as a teacher, reveals her despair and frustration during this period of her life.
A later letter, dated 1847, was written while Brontë was working on Jane Eyre, although Nussey was not aware of this at the time.
The Society was able to acquire the letters thanks to support of £198,450 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the UK’s fund of last resort for saving the nation’s most important treasures at risk.
Now they will be displayed in the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire.
Charlotte Brontë and her two sisters Anne and Emily all attended the school, which is now home to the Hollybank Trust.
A Hollybank Trust spokesperson said: “We are very aware of the history of the Brontë sisters and their association with the school.
“We are very proud of the history and know that all three of the sisters attended the school at some point.
“The Hollybank Trust is trying to carry on the spirit of the sisters, by allowing its residents to be creative and independent.”
The collection consists of six letters written by Charlotte to Ellen Nussey, her closest friend. Their lifelong friendship began in 1831 when they both became pupils at Miss Wooler’s school at Roe Head, near Mirfield.