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Hell Hath No Fury Women's Letters from the End of the AffairWritten by Anna HolmesBrain Pickings or Styleite are particularly impressed by Charlotte Brontë's letter:
Forword by Francine Prose
Published by: Ballantine Books
On Sale: December 30, 2003
It’s as old as time: the breakup letter. The kiss-off. The Dear John. The big adios. Simple in its premise, stunningly perfect in its effect. From Anne Boleyn to Sex and the City writer/producer Cindy Chupack, from women both well-known and unknown, imaginary and real, the letters here span the centuries and the emotions—providing a stirring, utterly gratifying glimpse at the power, wit, and fury of a woman’s voice. In a never-before-published letter, Anaïs Nin gives her lover, C. L. Baldwin, a piece of her mind. Charlotte Brontë, in formal fashion, refuses the marriage proposal of Henry Nussey. In a previously unpublished letter, Sylvia Plath writes to her childhood friend and brief lover, Phillip McCurdy, expressing her wish to maintain a platonic relationship. And “Susie Q.” lets “Johnny Smack-O” know that she’s onto his philandering.
The brilliance of the mad missives, caustic communiqués, downhearted dispatches, sweet send-offs, and every other sort of good-bye that fills these pages will surely resonate with anyone who has ever loved, lost, left, languished, or laughed a hearty last laugh.
On the last day of February in 1839, eight years before Jane Eyre was published, Brontë received a letter of marriage proposal from Henry Nussey, a Sussex curate whose sister Ellen was one of her close friends. Brontë’s reply, written on March 5, 1839, is nothing short of brilliant — assertive yet generous, unambiguous yet kind, and a masterwork of the it’s-not-you-it’s-me model. She essentially spells out why she would make a terrible mate by the era’s standards for what a good wife means — “her character should not be too marked, ardent and original” — channeling with equal parts humility and dignity her quiet confidence in being the antithesis of these qualities. (Maria Popova) (Read the letter here or listen to a GoAnimate clip)