Emily Brontë papers

Collection Data

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) was an English writer, poet, and the sister of Charlotte, Anne, and Patrick Branwell Brontë. Her papers, dating from the 1830s to 1844, are composed of holograph poems, essays, and a painting. The collection also holds supplementary materials, dating from the 1940s to the 1990s, about the history of the painting and holograph poems.
Brontë, Emily, 1818-1848 (Creator)
Brontë, Emily, 1818-1848 (Author)
Sellars, Jane (Contributor)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1830 - 1999
Library locations
Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature
Shelf locator: Berg Coll MSS 19106
Brontë, Anne, 1820-1849
Brontë, Charlotte, 1816-1855
Brontë, Patrick Branwell, 1817-1848
Authors, English -- 19th century
English poetry -- 19th century
Short stories, English
Women authors, English
manuscripts (documents)
manuscripts for publication
Biographical/historical: Emily Jane Brontë (born 1818 in Thornton, England) was an English poet and writer best known for her novel Wuthering Heights (1847). She was the second youngest sibling of the English writers Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, and Anne Brontë. Brontë's formal education was sparse. She briefly attended the Clergy Daughter's School and Roe Head School. The rest of her education came largely from her aunt, Elizabeth Branwell, and her older sister, Charlotte. Unlike her other two sisters, Brontë never worked as a governess. In 1838, Brontë worked as a teacher at Law Hill School for six months. Upon her return home to Haworth, Brontë performed domestic work and never took another paid position. In 1842, Brontë and her sister, Charlotte, attended Pensionnat Héger in Brussels, Belgium, to become more proficient in French and German. They intended to open their own school in England. However, after nine months, the sisters returned home when their aunt, Maria Branwell, became ill and died. In 1844, Brontë and Charlotte tried to open their own school, but were unable to attract students. From childhood into adulthood, Brontë and her sister, Anne, wrote poetry and stories about an imaginary world called Gondal. In 1846, Brontë published twenty-one poems in the poetry collection, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell under the pseudonym, Ellis Bell. Her novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), was published in conjunction with her sister Anne's novel, Agnes Grey (1847). In September 1848, Brontë became ill shortly after her brother's death. She died three months later in Haworth, England, in December 1848.
Content: The Emily Brontë papers include her holograph poems, essays, and a watercolor painting, dating from the 1830s to 1844. The holographs are made up of two essays written in French and approximately twenty-five poems. The collection also holds supplemental materials about the holograph poems and a watercolor painting dating from the 1940s to the 1990s. The holograph poems were written between the 1830s and 1844. Most of the poems have textual corrections, and some are fragmented. The back side of some of the holographs contains pencil sketches of unidentified objects and people. The first line of text was used to identify poems without titles. Two poems, "Not many years but long enough to see" (1830s) and "There let thy bleeding branch atone" (1830s), were previously attributed to Charlotte Brontë and Anne Brontë, respectively. The additional materials associated with the holograph poems consist of transcriptions and typewritten informational notes about the poems' publication and attribution histories. None of the associated materials are signed or dated but appear to be created by Berg Collection staff during the 1990s. The watercolor painting, titled Forget Me Not, depicts a forlorn woman sitting dejectedly in an archway with a dog and letter lying at her feet. Emily Brontë's name appears below the illustration. Please note that the painting retains the Berg Collection's historic local call number for continuity and tracking purposes. The supplemental material affiliated with the watercolor painting features a letter and essay, dated May 6, 1992, from Jane Sellars, then director of The Brontë Society and Bronte Parsonage Museum. In the essay, Sellars compares the painting to other illustrations in the museum's collection and speculates that it was painted by Patrick Branwell Brontë. The two holograph essays, "Le Chat" (May 15, 1842) and "Le Papillon" (August 11, 1842), are devoirs, or essay exercises, written while Brontë attended Pensionnat Héger. Unlike the painting and poems, the essays do not have any additional materials.
Acquisition: W. T. H. Howe; purchased with the W. T. H. Howe collection by Albert A. Berg in 1940; gift of Albert A. Berg, 1940.
Physical Description
Extent: 0.42 linear feet (2 boxes)
Type of Resource
Other local Identifier: Berg Coll MSS 19106
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b22850626
MSS Unit ID: 19106
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 11d35a40-9c60-013c-548a-0242ac110003
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