THE TIMIDITY OF THE BRONTE SISTERS. I have always been moved by the accounts of the first visit to London by Charlotte Bronte and Anne Bronte to meet the publisher of JANE EYRE. Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte had published novels under the names, respectively, of Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell. Nobody knew who the Bells were, but they had notoriety and some considered their books coarse. JANE EYRE had become a great commercial and critical success even though it had a reputation of being “improper”.

Charlotte and Anne finally went to London when they saw a claim that all the Bell books were written by one person. They went to demonstrate that the Bell books were written by three separate authors. This wikipedia entry describes their publisher as “extremely surprised to find two gawky, ill-dressed country girls paralysed with fear, who, to identify themselves, held out the letters addressed to Messrs. Acton, Currer and Ellis Bell.” (I had always thought of Emily as particularly timid because she refused to make the trip with her sisters.)

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