Letters discovered in a fly-filled Victorian prison cell shed new light on the creation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Charlotte and Emily Brontë gave us romanticised, byronic heroes, but Anne refused to wear rose-tinted glasses when dealing with male alcoholism and brutality
At the time of this letter’s writing the Brönte household was in disarray. Branwell, Charlotte’s elder brother, had died from a case of alcoholism-enflamed bronchitis in September 1848. Soon after Branwell’s death, Emily succumbed to tuberculosis. All responsibility of the family’s care and upkeep fell to Charlotte, who took another blow when Anne, the youngest, started with a racking cough. Charlotte addresses William Smith Williams, one of her editors at the publishing house of Smith, Elder, and Co. Her hopes, outlined below, were too generous; Anne’s case of TB proved fatal in May.
he Brontës have always been novelists’ novelists, perhaps because their history is novelistic material—the six children in their bleak setting of the Yorkshire moors, their struggle against fate, marked by recurrent death—Maria and Elizabeth dying in childhood—Branwell’s fantastic tragedy, the simultaneous illumination of three personalities in Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey, fame and then death once more—Emily, Anne, Charlotte.