Anne's Letter to Ellen Nussey (January 1848)
  Pictures of the original letter (41K) (45K)

In late January 1848, Anne sent another letter to Ellen Nussey: this highlights the steady friendship that had developed between the two. At the time, Anne was still engrossed in the writing of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - and still keeping mum about the sisters' authorship - as is very evident in the letter . . .

'I have no news to tell you, for we have been nowhere, seen no one, and done nothing (to speak of) since you were here . . .'

From early January, through to March, Anne was very ill - suffering from successive bouts of Flu with a 'distressing cough and fever'. She mentions this in the letter (presented below), but, as usual, trivialises the seriousness of her ailments.

Throughout her life, Anne suffered acutely from asthma. In 1846, Charlotte wrote to Ellen and commented on Anne's admirable quality of enduring such ailments without complaint - 'She has an extraordinary heroism of endurance. I admire, but I certainly could not imitate her.' In December 1846, Anne had a particularly severe attack, and later, Charlotte told Ellen: 'Poor Anne has suffered greatly from asthma, but is now, I am glad to say, rather better. She had two nights last week when her cough and difficulty of breathing were painful indeed to hear and witness, and must have been most distressing to suffer; she bore it, as she does all affliction, without one complaint, only sighing now and then when nearly worn out.' 158

The edge of the actual letter has been cut - probably by Ellen Nussey - leaving a number of words, or parts of words, missing: these have been assumed and added here (in red).

January 26th, 1848

My dear Miss Nussey,

I am not going to give you a "nice long epistle" - on the contrary I mean to content myself with a shabby little note to be ingulfed in a letter of Charlotte's which will, of course, be infinitely more acceptable to you than any production of mine, though I do not question your friendly regard for me, or the indulgent welcome you would accord to a missive of mine even without a more agreeable companion to back it, but you must know there is a lamentable deficiency in my organ of language which makes me almost as bad a hand at writing as talking unless [I] have something particular to say. I have now however to [thank] you and your friend Miss Ri[ng]rose for your kind letter an[d] her pretty watch guards, whi[ch] I am sure we shall all [of] us value the more for [being] the work of her own han[d] for she is no stranger [to] any of us. I am glad she still [con]tinues with you for both [your] sake and hers, and I [hope] Mr. Ringrose will be [per]suaded to let her stay some [ti]me longer, for I am sure it [wo]uld do you both good. [I] fear your sister must [ha]ve suffered a good deal [fro]m the cut in her hand, [b]ut, bad as the accident was, it is a mercy it was attended with no worse results. It is dreadful to think of what might have occurred and in all probability would, if the game had been kept a few days longer. You do not tell us how you bear the present unfavourable weather. We are all cut up by this cruel east wind, most of us e.i. Charlotte, Emily, and I have had the influenza or a bad cold instead, twice over within the space of a few weeks; Papa has had it once, Tabby has hitherto escaped it altogether - I have no news to tell you, for we have been nowhere, seen no one, and done nothing (to speak of) since you were here - and yet we contrive to be busy from morning to night. Flossy is fatter than ever, but still active enough to relish a sheep hunt - I hope you and your circle have been more fortunate in the matter of colds than we have. With kind regards to all, I remain, dear Miss Nussey, Yours ever affectly

Anne Brontë.

(Sources of letter contents)

Amelia Ringrose was initially the fiancé of George Nussey - Ellen's brother, though she ultimately married Mary Taylor's brother, Joe.160n

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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