THE BRONTES 107 Smith & Elder wrote so civil a letter that Char- lotte was consoled and almost immediately sent them Jane Eyre, the work in three volumes which they had offered to read. Jane Eyre was accepted and was published in October 1847. I* was a success from the first. " Decidedly the best novel of the season/' said The Westminster Review, and other reviews followed suit. (The famous Quarterly Review attack did not come until a year later.) Jam Eyre took London by storm ; people declared that they had sat up all night reading it, a remark which was not then so much a part of reviewers' stock-in-trade as it is now, and Currer Bell suddenly became the most talked-of writer in literary circles everywhere. Charlotte Bronte, in her quiet way, was im- mensely excited. She wrote constantly, if not, at first, incessantly, to Smith & Elder's reader, Mr. W. S. Williams. She wrote, of course, always as "yours respectfully, C. Bell,"1 but the hand- writing, apart from the dignified volubility of the letters, can hardly have left Mr. Williams long in doubt as to the sex of Currer Bell. Charlotte, indeed, was in her element in this correspondence, discussing not only her review notices with Mr. Williams, who sent them to her, but also her re- viewers and readers (among them Mr. Thackeray and Mr. Lewes) ; enquiring as to the personality 1 Charlotte had conducted the correspondence with Aylott & Jones under her own name, though always referring to the Bella as the authors but identifying herself with them by using the pronouns "we" and "us." She had also revealed her sex to Aylott & Jones by directing the proofs of the poems to be sent to "Miss Bronte, not C. Bronte, Esq."