Currer, Ellis and Acton BELL (Brontë sisters) : Poems

Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell was a volume of poetry published jointly by the three Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne in 1846 and their first work to ever go in print. To evade contemporary prejudice against female writers, the Brontë sisters adopted androgynous first names. All three retained the first letter of their first names : Charlotte became Currer Bell, Anne became Acton Bell, and Emily became Ellis Bell. The book was printed by Aylott and Jones, from London. The first edition failed to attract interest, with only two copies being sold. However, the sisters decided to continue writing for publication and began work on their first novels, which became commercial successes. Following the success of Charlotte's Jane Eyre in 1848, and after the deaths of Emily and Anne, the second edition of this book (printed in 1850 by Smith & Elder) fared much better, with Charlotte's additions of previously unpublished poetry by her two late sisters. It is believed that there are fewer than ten copies in existence with the Aylott and Jones title-page.

Recently, I read Emily's poems and I didn't like them very much. Didn't hate them either, but I didn't feel drawned to them. Strangely enough, they were the ones I prefered in this particular book. 

It's not the book I would recommend to those who have never read the Brontës, but if you have, if you know their lives, this will be interesting. You can spot particular themes that you can also find in their novels, you can find echoes of their lives and know who or what they are writing about. And on a second reading, I even loved some of them. This edition was particularly moving because they were annotated by Charlotte, who took to doing this work after losing her siblings.

So, for a first reading : no. But if you're interested in British poetry, Victorian literature or simply the Brontês : yes ! 

PS : This is the first book they ever published and they only sold... two copies !



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