[BRONTË, Charlotte]. Shirley. A Tale. By Currer Bell, author of ''Jane Eyre.'' London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1849.
[BRONTË, Charlotte]. Shirley. A Tale. By Currer Bell, author of "Jane Eyre." London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1849.
3 volumes, 8o (198 x 122 mm). With 16-page advertisements in vol. I dated October 1849 and 3-page advertisments in vol. III. Original claret cloth, decorated in blind, gilt-lettered on spines (spines slightly darkened, some light wear at ends of spines, front joint of vol. I with repair and partly split at head, endpaper in vol. II clipped along foremargin). Provenance: Paul Francis Webster (bookplates; his sale Sotheby's New York, 24 April 1985, lot 6).
FIRST EDITION. Shirley was published on 26 October 1849, and was written in the wake of the deaths of Charlotte's siblings Branwell, Emily and Anne. She wrote to her publisher in August, when it was finished: "Whatever now becomes of the work, the occupation of writing it has been a boon to me. It took me out of a dark and desolate reality into an unreal but happier region" (quoted in Fraser, Charlotte Brontë: A Life, New York, 1988, p.341). Shirley was Charlotte Brontë's second published novel, after Jane Eyre. Set in a fictional part of Yorkshire in 1811-12, it is set against the industrial depression of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 and the Luddite uprisings against the textile industry. At the time, Shirley was more commonly a male name, but the immense popularity of the novel established it as a feminine name that persists to this day. Parrish 93; Sadleir 348; Smith 5. (3)