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Full text of "The Brontë sisters"

l8                          THE  BRONTE  SISTERS
But the sight of one's words in print, whether they are
well received or no, is stimulating to the true author, and
the three sisters each set to work to writeor to finish
writing-a work of fiction. Charlotte's first novel was
The Professor, Anne's Agnes Grey, Emily's her solitary but
superb masterpiece, Wuthering Heights. For some eighteen
months, Charlotte tells us, these novels, which were shorter
than the three-volume length then requisite, were *per-
severingly obtruded upon various publishers', receiving in
each case 'an ignominious and abrupt refusal'. At length
the novels of the younger two sisters were accepted 'on
terms somewhat impoverishing to the authors', but The
Professor remained without a home. Meanwhile Mr. Bronte's
cataract grew ready for the operation; Charlotte accom-
panied him to Manchester for this purpose, and while
there began to write Jane Eyre. Venturing forth her first
born yet once again she found it refused by Messrs. Smith,
Elder in terms so courteous and discriminating that she took
fresh courage, and when Jane Eyre was finished sent it to
them. They accepted it with enthusiasm and published it
within six weeks; appearing in October 1847, it achieved a
high and lasting success. Meanwhile Wuthering Heights and
Agnes Grey yet lingered in the press. Stimulated by the
success of Jane Eyre, their publisher brought them out in
December, but Anne's fiction was overlooked, while Mr.
Ellis Bell was characterized as 'dogged, brutal, and morose5
Anne, however, with quiet courage began another novel,
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Charlotte planned Shirley,
while Messrs. Smith, Elder bought up the unbound sheets
of the Poems and prepared to nurse carefully and enthu-
siastically the reputation of the three Bells. It seemed as
if the sun would at last come out over Haworth Parsonage.
But it was not to be. Branwell, whose sisters kept the
secret of their publications from him so as not to rub salt
in the wounds of his failure, deteriorated rapidly in health
and died in September 1848. The passing of this once so
promising, ambitious, and beloved brother was an anguish