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Full text of "The Brontes"

132                     THE   BRONTES
(May, 1848) she wrote, in answer to an enquiry :
ec Whoever has said it - if anyone has, which I
doubt - is no friend of mine. Though twenty
books were ascribed to me, I should own none.
I scout the idea utterly. . . . If then any Birstal-
lian or Gomersallian should presume to bore you
on the subject-to ask you what 'novel' Miss
Bronte has been ' publishing ' - you can just say,
with the distinct firmness of which you are perfect
mistress, when you choose, that you are authorised
by Miss Bronte to say, that she repels and disowns
every accusation of the kind.35 Emily and Anne,
following her suit, appear to have been violently
against publicity and when Charlotte told her
father about Jane Eyre they would not let their
books be mentioned to him.
The winter of 1847-8, as well as the winter
before that, had been severe : influenza had been
rife, everyone in the Parsonage had been ill with
it, the " animal spirits " of all were much reduced.
Anne was constantly feverish ; the writing of
Wildfell Hall had been a strain on her though not
because, as Charlotte's remarks in the biograph-
ical sketch have been understood to indicate,
she had drawn a picture of Bran well therein. The
central figure of Wildfell Hall is far from being
like Branwell ; Anne obviously avoided direct
portraiture. The story is of an unhappy marriage,
made in haste and repented of, between an
amiable young woman and a rake who shatters
her fond illusions and himself proceeds along the
primrose path to an untimely but finally contrite
end. Anne, who had seen the beginning of her