Thursday, July 07, 2016

Thursday, July 07, 2016 12:36 am by M. in    No comments
This extraordinary piece of Brontëana will be under the hammer next July 12th at Sotheby's:
English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations
12 July 2016  |  10:30 AM BST

Lot 78The Holy Bible... Longman, Hurst, Rees. Orme and Brown, 1821
Estimate 15,000 — 20,000 GBP

12mo, Presentation Copy from Charlotte Brontë to her close friend Ellen Nussey  ("E Nussey | from | C Brontë | 1837") together with a later inscription from Nussey ("Mary Carr | From E Nussey | Jan 16th 94 [74?]") on preliminary blank, contemporary straight-grain red morocco, title in gilt on spine, marbled endpapers, gilt edges, collector's green morocco folding box, occasional light spotting and browning, extremities slightly rubbed.

Catalogue Notes

Ellen Nussey (1817-1897) first met Charlotte Brontë in 1831 when they both attended Roe Head school; Nussey was to become Brontë's closest friend and confidant. By 1837 Brontë was a teacher at Roe Head and experiencing some religious confusion. This, coupled to an emotional separation from Nussey, may have prompted the gift of this Bible.
In December 1836 Brontë wrote "If I could always live with you, and 'daily' read the bible with you… I hope, I trust, I might one day become better, far better, than my evil wandering thoughts, my corrupt heart… will now permit me to be" (see ed. Smith, The Letters of Charlotte Brontë, Volume One, Oxford, 1995, p. 156). Then in February 1837 Brontë wrote about their separation: "…what shall I do without you? How long are we to be separated? …Why are we to be divided? Surely, Ellen, it must be because we are in danger of loving each other too well; of losing sight of the Creator in idolatry of the creature. …Last Sunday I took up my Bible in a gloomy frame of mind; I began to read; a feeling stole over me… I thought of my own Ellen…" (see ed. Smith, The Letters of Charlotte Brontë, Volume One, Oxford, 1995, p. 164).
The verso of the front free endpaper presents 25 lines of verse ("Holy Bible, book divine") possibly in two different hands in pencil. The verse is based on John Burton's hymn of 1803. The word 'blessed' is underlined in brown ink on seven occasions: on pp.918, 926, 927, 929 (twice) and 931 (twice). There are also two neat marginal notes in brown ink: "Chap I.v.3." (p.926) and "C.XV.13" (p.927).
The Carr family of Gomersal feature in the Nussey family tree on at least two occasions: Ellen Nussey's cousin married William Carr (Surgeon of Gomersal) and Ellen’s brother's sister-in-law married Charles Carr (Solicitor of Gomersal). It is likely, therefore, that Mary Carr was a distant relation of Ellen Nussey who received this volume in either 1874 or 1894 (the inscription is not clear).
Another lot has also Brontë connections:
Swinburne, Algernon Charles
Lot 128. "A Note on Charlotte Brontë", Autograph Working Manuscript
Estimate  6,000 — 8,000  GBP

Extensively revised throughout, text on numbered 48 rectos with additions and notes on seven facing versos, with a signed autograph dedication to Theodore Watts ("an inadequate acknowledgment of much personal obligation, & an imperfect expression of fellow-feeling on the subject here imperfectly & inadequately handled") window mounted, altogether 56 pages, blue paper, folio (335 x 210mm, Britannia watermark with countermarks dated 1874 and 1876), c.1876, in green morocco gilt by Riviere and Sons, inside dentelles, gilt lettering on upper cover, spine in six compartments, lacking the final leaf of text, light soiling.

Catalogue Notes

Swinburne was inspired to write this critical appreciation of Charlotte Brontë by his reading of her letters to Ellen Nussey. He originally intended it for the Athenaeum but is soon grew beyond the confines of a periodical publication and was published as a short monograph by Chatto and Windus in 1877.


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