This Week in Literary History: The Bronte Legacy
For this week’s journey let’s go back to October 6th 1847, when Jane Eyre was published under the name Currer Bell, a pseudonym for Charlotte Bronte. All three of the Bronte sisters used the name of Bell to publish under. In 1846, they published a book of poetry authored by Currer, Ellis, and Action Bell. Emily and Anne continued using their pseudonyms when they published Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, respectively.
Their reason for hiding their identities was due to their sex, as Charlotte was worried that they would not be taken seriously if their prospective readers knew they were women. While Jane Eyre was widely accepted—although considered controversial—the book of poetry only sold two copies. And Charlotte’s first book, The Professor, was not published until after her death. But what is of most importance is that Charlotte and her sisters shared a dream together, to have books in publication, which is an inspiration to all.
So, in honor of Charlotte Bronte and her sisters, let’s first revisit HFR's Fall/Winter2001-2002 issue for Susan Scheid’s story, “Thief.” This is the story of Millie, who paints magpies, the only reminder she has of her mother, Gethsemene. Her father, Jacob, tries to live beyond the death of his wife. “Millie held fast to her own dreaming thoughts. Each morning, with only her box of paints to guide her, she would go out into the fields around Adair and draw up from her memory the image of the magpie—the only image she had that connected her to her mother.”
Next, let’s visit Bayou Magazine, Issue 54, 2011 where you’ll find Christopher J. Hevey’s “Wu Fat Satori.” This is the story of a gambler who, after losing his fields, copes with hate and uncertainty as he comes to terms with what he has lost. “The gold sun still glittered in the blue western sky. Jade waters still flowed on to the sea. The red boat still bobbed on the surface of the river. Bulrushes still grew in great profusion on the bank of the river. His heart still pounded in his chest. Everything was the same.”