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."